Eduardo Cancel says a sudden detour on his academic pathway is making him appreciate his upcoming graduation even more.
Six-and-a-half years ago when Cancel first entered UC, he had graduated from high school with a GPA that was higher than 4.0 and was awarded full scholarship tuition to UC through the Darwin T. Turner Scholars program and Cincinnatus Scholarship program. A UC student with a proud Latino heritage, he says he was following the footsteps of his father when he started out majoring in mechanical engineering.
Then, he hit a bump. After starting out on the dean’s list, he says he started struggling academically, and that struggle hit this high-achiever hard. “I didn’t think that college would be that tough, because academics had always come so easy for me,” he says. “I began to question myself and ask myself if I was really smart. I was disappointed in myself, and I was worried about disappointing my family.”
That’s when he says he turned to the coordinators in his scholarship program for both moral and academic support. “I told them, they weren’t just my scholarship program, they were my therapists,” he says. “That whole family environment got me through it.”
He switched his field of study from mechanical engineering to civil engineering, adding he was interested in the environmental aspects of the major. But after four-and-a-half years at UC including working co-op, he switched his major in what would have been his senior year in engineering. “I realized it just wasn’t the right field for me. Everyone told me to just go ahead and finish it out, and I said, ‘This was not the right fit for me.’”
He says he discovered a field of study that was more to his interest, the industrial management program in the College of Business. It’s an engineering-based program for technically-oriented students who share their first two years of study with students in engineering. The bachelor of science in industrial management is called one of the few undergraduate programs of its kind in the nation.
Cancel adds that during his time at UC, he also fell in love with the city of Cincinnati, and he has interviewed with some Tristate companies. He says he emphasizes in interviews that he is bilingual in both English and Spanish, thanks to his family heritage.
It took him two more years to get to graduation this December, but he says it was worth it. “You can always look back and say, ‘I should have done this sooner.’ But I know that what I learned and what I went through is going to make me appreciate graduation that much more.
“Even if it is only five seconds to walk across that stage at Commencement, I’ll savor every one of those seconds. It took a lot for me to get to this moment.”