Pittsburg State University students come in all sorts, making their mark with a variety of dreams and plans for their futures. But one who stands out from the crowd in a way that impresses even his fellow students is John-Michael Watson, a pre-med major who is part leader, part adventurer - and all Gorilla.
Watson is one of the co-directors of PSU's Free Clinic, a one-of-a-kind facility in Pittsburg that is run by students and offers free medical services to those in need. With the supervision of volunteer doctors, Watson and his staff of students treat hundreds of patients a year, gaining hands-on experience that is invaluable when applying to med school.
It was his drive to lead the clinic that turned heads. When sharing his life experiences in a bid to convince his peers he was the right person for the job, they took note of his leadership. "When he started talking about everything he'd done and what he wanted to do with the clinic, we knew he'd be a great choice," one classmate recalls.
And he has been. A true adventurist, Watson studied in Jerusalem, worked on the shores of Galilee, volunteered in Africa, and soaked up the cultures of Jordan, Turkey and Egypt - all before deciding to enroll at PSU, where a long line of relatives had gone before.
"I had a lot of experience with PSU before I even decided to come here," he said. "It's been nice to have my own stories about Pittsburg and to make friends that will be with me the rest of my life. Originally, I was just coming for the education. But I love it here. It's been a really positive thing in my life."
Between finishing his studies and working at the clinic, which draws pre-med majors from across the region for the unique training opportunity, Watson relaxes by taking to the water and the air - scuba diving and piloting are two of his great passions.
"PSU has a lot of grads accepted into medical school, because the department does a good job getting students ready," he said. "I'm appreciating the opportunity for research. A lot of doctors in town are open to teaching and letting you shadow. It feels like there's a responsibility to the campus from the community, and we benefit from that."