On a cool spring afternoon, many individuals fill the student-run campus coffee shop. Music plays at a medium volume, often drowned out by the sound of grinding coffee or friendly conversation. One individual sits at a large group table, happily socializing. His math textbook sits open in front of him.
The spectacled individual, with slick dark hair and a bright smile, had a truly winding path to get to where he is today.
Samuel Cho is a freshman international student this year at Anderson University. He studies both chemistry and mathematics.
Though his majors set him apart, his pathway to Anderson is a key part of his identity.
Cho was born in South Korea; however, he spent the majority of the years of his early life in the United States.
“My parents, they finished their education here in the United States, so for the very early part of my life, until about 5 years old, I was in America,” said Cho. “I went to preschool here, and I was about to go to kindergarten before we left.”
Cho’s parents actively work as missionaries. His family has lived in several different locations throughout his life.
Once leaving the United States, Cho and his family moved to Mongolia for continued mission outreach. There, a homeschool co-op within his community allowed him to continue his growth in American culture, all the while learning both English and Korean.
Cho was homeschooled from third grade to his senior year.
“I was all over the place,” said Cho. “I was doing online homeschooling during high school, and back then, I was in Uzbekistan.”
Little did he know that his time in Uzbekistan would lead him to a small Christian college across the globe.
During high school, Cho grew to really enjoy his AP Chemistry class; yet, he did not enjoy studying alone. The time that Cho devoted to his work, though, did bring his broader appreciation for science.
“I just remember enjoying the process of calculating things to essentially predict what would happen,” said Cho. “In chemistry, what I love about it so much is that it uses math and science together.”
Originally coming into Anderson as a math education major, Cho soon realized that he missed the science side of education. About two weeks into his first semester, he had Organic Chemistry added to his schedule.
Many of his friends and even professors saw this as a bold choice, but Cho exceeded their expectations and loved the course. As of this semester, he is actively taking two more chemistry courses.
“I decided, I really wanted to pursue chemistry instead of the education part of math,” said Cho. “If I were…to do math and chemistry separately, I would be specializing in both, and I loved that.”
Both of Cho’s parents are presently still active in their mission work. His mother and father both serve as educators in Ethiopia; his father specializes in microbiology and is working on Bible studies with students. Both of his parents work to teach Korean. Cho also has an older brother who studies engineering at a university back in South Korea.
Though college in South Korea would have been a cheaper option with simple resources, Cho was adamant about traveling back to the United States.
“I was used to the American culture. That is what I grew up in,” said Cho. “That kind of really swayed the way I viewed college…I wanted to continue [American culture connections] into the future as well, so I chose that.”
Cho’s transition to Anderson University all started with a man he met while his family lived in Uzbekistan.
An Indianapolis man by the name of Pastor Yun was invited to Uzbekistan for education outreach. Arriving in the area where Cho and his family were staying, Yun helped to teach older students about how to take and prepare for the SAT. Luckily, Yun was stationed in the school that Cho’s mom was working in. Through these connections, Cho and Yun got to know each other and soon became pretty good friends; they stayed in contact throughout Cho’s time in high school.
“By the time I was applying for universities…we got in contact again, and he introduced me to Anderson University,” said Cho.
Though not directly linked to Anderson, Pastor Yun had suggested it as a Christian school option near where he was living.
Upon further research, Cho found Anderson to be just what he was looking for, and he was soon accepted to attend. With nothing but his contact in Indianapolis, he decided to take the leap by himself.
Cho packed up everything he would need for the upcoming semesters and boarded an airplane alone. Between flights, he totaled more than 15 hours of air time.
Even when he arrived in the United States, the trip was not easy. Due to concerns with the coronavirus, he had to stay in a quarantine apartment for a short period of time.
Regardless of the difficulties and long process, Cho was able to successfully make the trip for his college education. Now a Dunn Hall resident, he is approaching the end of his first year at Anderson University.
Since the distance between Anderson and his home in South Korea prevents frequent travel, Cho has made arrangements to stay with friends during vacation periods.
“I am so grateful for the people that God has given me, around me, who really support me,” said Cho. “[They] really helped me overcome some of my fears that I first initially had when I came here.”
Cho is beyond thankful for his friends, family, Dunn Hall floor mates and kind professors who have supported him through his journey.
At present, Cho is unsure what the future holds, but he is certain that God has a plan through it all.