CONWAY — Will Schichtl is ready to live a life of service and change the world, serving in the U.S. Marine Reserves and working in cancer research, but without his Catholic education at St. Joseph School in Conway, none of this may have happened.
“A couple years ago I had the option to go to a public school and honestly if I did go to a public school, I probably wouldn’t have joined the military or thought about cancer research or lived by the motto, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’” the 18-year-old said. “St. Joseph School has really helped my life in my opinion.”
A cradle Catholic and son of Scott Schichtl of Mayflower and Carie Harris of Fort Smith, Schichtl’s life is centered around faith, service and the desire to better himself. He is in the National Honor Society, Interact Club and a dedicated volunteer for the Flea Market and annual school bazaar.
With a 4.25 GPA this semester, he admits his overall GPA it is closer to around “3.9-something.”
“I wasn’t that good of a student a couple years ago. I got a couple of Bs,” he said.
For three years, he competed in cross-country and soccer. Waking up at 4:50 a.m., he’d make the trek from Mayflower to Conway to run with cross-country teammates at 6 a.m. The team won district this year.
“Sometimes when you’re on that last mile and out of breath, you just think to yourself, ‘I can do all things through God who gives me strength.’ I just feel chills and can start running as fast as I can,” he said.
He meets up with friends on Sundays for a six- to seven-mile run.
“There’s no better feeling knowing you increased your time by a couple seconds,” he said, his best at 18:23 for a 5K. The camaraderie with teammates is special. “I think the reason our friendship is so good, this is weird, but you’re both suffering. It’s comfortable to know the guy next to you is suffering as well and you have each other to get through the suffering.”
Schichtl only competed in one soccer game this semester, another gut-punch along with missing his friends at school amid the pandemic.
While he almost missed his graduation, he was able to attend when his plan to leave for basic training in the Marine Reserves was pushed back until October.
“Honestly, I feel like I’ve taken this country for granted and all the freedoms it gives me. It’s my way of giving back,” he said. “... (The Marines) are the first in to really help people, and I want to be a part of that.”
In the future, Schichtl plans to study biochemistry at the University of Arkansas to eventually help in cancer research, another way his faith has influenced his path.
“The Catholic faith really teaches me about the importance of helping people loving your neighbor as yourself,” he said.
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