Major: Associate in Arts
Mitchell Sandleback has always been fascinated by the sciences as well as the stories told by his mom, who is a nurse.
“I was in shock whenever I discovered more information on what the human body could do—how the cells in our body could replicate, how muscles worked and functioned with the human body’s movement, or even the neurons that could send quick information to our brain so we can react to the environment around us,” he said. “All of that was amazing to me and helped me find a passion for medicine. If I can help someone recover or make their day less painful with treatments, I would feel that I am making a difference in the world, even if it is one patient at a time.”
Sandleback decided to start his educational journey at College of DuPage. He knew about its strong academic reputation as well as its affordability.
“While I have money saved in a college account, I didn’t know where to go for college when I got out of high school,” he said. “I thought about big universities because everyone else was doing that. In the end, I wanted to play baseball and save as much money as possible while still receiving a great education. I decided to go to COD, mature a little bit and try to focus on my classes to help myself be more successful when I transferred to a four-year institution.
“I was extremely excited but also nervous on how college would go for me. I was hoping to make new friends and enjoy playing baseball, and once I arrived at COD, I knew I was in good hands in a welcoming community with great faculty, staff and students.”
While he initially wanted to pursue an Associate in Science degree, his advisor suggested the Associate in Arts degree as it would provide a better balance between academics and athletics. The baseball team became his family and helped him through a difficult time.
“I grew closer with them my first year when I lost my father to stage 4 liver cancer,” he said. “The entire team, including my coaches, cared about me and what I was up to. Baseball was a great way for me to escape and just have some fun and let go of some stress. I had a blast learning new skills under coach Bobby Wilson and his team to help prepare me for the next level of baseball. It was a great time and I would not trade any of it back. I will always remember these guys and will check in on them later in our own journeys.”
In 2020, the Physical Education, Fitness and Sports Science faculty recognized Sandleback for excellence during the annual Celebration of Academic Excellence. Having earned his degree, he is transferring to Lawrence University to pursue a bachelor’s degree and then will apply to pre-med schools.
“Once I am in med school, I would like to have made my selection from the three fields that interest me: anesthesiology, radiology or dermatology. I hope in the future that I am doing my best to help others who need it most when it comes to their health.”
Sandleback is glad he attended COD and would tell others to take advantage of the welcoming environment. He also stresses the importance of involvement.
“The resources available to students are incredible, and sports and clubs are great ways to meet new people and be part of the COD community,” he said. “In many ways, COD helped prepare me better for what a four-year university has to offer. I learned skills that I never had while I was in high school, such as managing my time better when it came to projects or assignments. The faculty and staff care for each student. All of the people I met were willing to put extra time in to help me understand, and the overall resources that were available were huge factors in helping me grow. I know that I have made connections with professors who can provide guidance in the future as I continue moving along my path. This was a great two years of my educational journey and if I had to go back and do college over, I would start again at COD.
“I would also like to thank my mother and brother who have been there with me throughout the troubles and great triumphs. Without them, I would have lost my way and may not have done as well as I have at COD. I would also like to thank my father. He was beyond what words can describe about how much he meant to my family and to me. I am glad that I have all of his teachings and life lessons and I will carry those with me for the rest of my life. I know that he is smiling down and is watching over us, knowing that we will all be all right!”