John Wilson, a 6th generation alumnus of Emporia State University and two-time cancer survivor, will be attending his granddaughter’s graduation this May.
Having graduated in 1972,Wilson spoke about some of the changes he noticed throughout the years since he has attended the school.
“I think it’s changed a lot from the standpoint of jobs and also of the college growing and becoming more nationally-known,” Wilson said.
“They’re doing good in sports, which I believe is the other half of education.”
Wilson said he still enjoys looking back on his college days and going by Cremer Hall, where he spent most of his time.
In addition to his family’s history at the school, Wilson said he is also a two-time survivor of cancer.
“I was diagnosed with leukemia in 2004, and my blood counts and spleen got worse,so I had to get chemotherapy,” Wilson said.
Wilson’s oncologist told him that leukemia was actually what saved his life after doctors found a rapidly growing tumor on his left kidney.
“The tumor was able to be surgically removed,” Wilson said. “And my doctors said that within a couple of months, it would have traveled to my heart and killed me faster than leukemia would have. I’ll never forget when he (the doctor) told me that. I whine a lot, but I have no regrets.”
Crediting most of his success through college to financial stability, Wilson has Al Bowman, financial aid director in the 1970s, to thank.
“He worked his tail off toget me grants and student aid because he knew I came from a young family,” Wilson said. “He was awesome.”
Among his 10 grandchildren, his oldest, Hannah Williams, senior nursing major,will graduate this May.