Going to college is essentially an act of personal optimism.
You make a bargain with your intellect, your time and your wallet. The bargain is that you spend four (or five, in Drexel’s case) years of your life attending class and polishing term papers, working co-op and delaying adult life, in the expectation that at the end of it, you’ll be first in line for your dream life. If you’re lucky, maybe you’ll also meet your soulmate.
Regardless of the exact terms of our private contract with higher education, most of us undertake this rite with the belief that college is a first step toward fulfilling our hopes. You invest in a certain future.
There’s a lot of that happening for the 40 Under 40, whose stories are inside. This year’s honorees have accomplished a tremendous amount since they graduated. There’s a chef for a prestigious restaurateur, a drummer for a popular rock band, an inventor with a hot idea. One is working to solve America’s nuclear waste problem. Another hunts extraterrestrial microbes for NASA. These are some great stories, but they aren’t the full story. When we select the 40 Under 40, we look for achievement, but we also honor individuals who inspire us and who inspire others.
This year, we have two honorees who discovered, not long after leaving college to follow their dreams, that their futures had something unexpected in store for them. Each is a survivor of rare, advanced forms of cancer.
Notwithstanding their serious diagnoses, they committed themselves to projects that help others.
I’m sad to say that one of them, Marc Kuchler, passed away on Feb. 10.
I know firsthand how scary it is to discover you have cancer — even when, as in my case, there was a straightforward surgical cure. It takes character to set your vision on something beyond the diagnosis.
In the final three years of his life, Marc and his wife, Rachael, raised more than $100,000 to benefit Free to Breathe, a nonprofit that funded some of Marc’s medical treatment. Their hope was to raise money for research to develop drugs that target cancers like Marc’s, which currently has no cure.
Anyone interested in making a contribution in his name cando so at freetobreathe.org. I just did.
–Sonja Sherwood / Editor