First-year Cleveland State Community College student Bo Marshall might be described as an overachiever.
He said he agrees with the assessment, but he is a true believer in what a person can do when they become determined to do all they can to achieve their goals.
The 19-year-old Athens native and graduate of McMinn County High School, said he had “quite a few things” drawing him to study at Cleveland State.
He said it was inexpensive, close to home and familiar because he had friends who already attended the college.
While those things were what made him want to study at a community college instead of going straight to the university he plans to attend later, what has made him want to continue has been the ability to take classes on a schedule that works with what he wants to do — finish his undergraduate degree quickly so he can start his medical career.
Marshall, a pre-med major, said his future goal is to become a cardiothoracic surgeon, one who works to repair damaged hearts and lungs.
“My whole life, I have loved the medical field,” Marshall said, reiterating his desire to get started as soon as possible.
The young man said he is doing something that might seem unbelievable. He is a full-time student who is currently taking 26 credit hours — yes, more than 20 — while working part-time and being involved with campus activities.
When he is not studying or working as a customer service representative on Lonza’s pool care hotline, he is involved with Baptist Collegiate Ministries, the Vocal Rhapsody choir and the Phi Theta Kappa honor society. He also attends church.
“If you’re organized, and you keep up with things, it’s fine,” Marshall said. “But it is hard.”
He said he stays busy because he knows what his goals are. He wants to earn a lot of college credits at Cleveland State to help him make the most of his time. By the time he transfers to East Tennessee State University, he plans to have completed about 75 percent of his credits toward a bachelor’s degree.
He hopes that will help him graduate early and be on the “fast track” for acceptance into ETSU’s medical school.
While he is trying to do a lot in a short amount of time, Marshall said he has been trying to make the most of his experience by being involved on Cleveland State’s campus.
“It’s not just a campus that you come to and go home,” he said. “First semester, I was kind of timid to join anything.”
College life has been an adjustment. The teaching styles were different from the ones he experienced in high school, and there is a lot more studying to do.
Still, he said he has learned how to manage his time so he is able to study and maintain grade good enough to stay in his honor society.
He said the teachers at Cleveland State have been good about helping him stay on top of his studies and explaining things to him when he has needed the help.
Marshall explained his studies have already begun to pay off in unexpected ways. He has already gotten the opportunity to job shadow surgeons on a few different occasions.
He said he has found when those professionals quiz him on how something should be done, he knows the answer more often than he originally thought he would.
Paying attention in chemistry classes has even helped him as he tries to troubleshoot things like bad pH balances in swimming pools while working at his after-school job.
The secret to doing all he has been able to do so far has been a simple one, he said. His philosophy is that staying positive will lead to positive results, and being negative can lead to negative results.
“If you set your mind to it, you can accomplish it,” Marshall said. “In today’s society, college is important. If you strive and truly desire something, you can achieve it.”