By Pamela Martineau
Michael Goering, SCCO, ’19, learned the importance of embracing grit early in
life. The second to the youngest child in a family of 13 kids, Goering’s mother was diagnosed with leukemia when he was 10 years old.
“I was always at the hospital visiting her,” says Goering. “I knew then that I wanted to do some kind of medicine. I just didn’t know what type.”
Money was tight growing up in Iowa and Goering had to rely on himself to pay for his education. He was offered a full scholarship at a university in Iowa, but that
commitment to him ultimately wasn’t honored when he returned from his two-year Latter-day Saints’ mission in Malaysia and Singapore.
Like all resilient people, Goering hit the reset button and launched into Plan B. Plan
B was applying elsewhere and obtaining a football scholarship at Southern Virginia
University where he studied pre-med.
Studying in Virginia allowed him to volunteer at a free community clinic in the
Appalachian Mountains. The clinic offered underserved patients free dental and
Initially Goering set his sights on becoming a dentist, but that first tour of duty in the
community clinic shifted that dream.
“I first helped out the dentists for about 30 minutes at the clinic. I didn’t like it and
went to help the optometrists,” he says. “I just loved it. I thought it was awesome. I
saw how much of a difference it made in their lives.”
Goering was hooked and set out to apply to optometry school. He honed in on a
school in Memphis, but during a virtual optometry school fair, he spoke to some
admissions officers from SCCO.
“I thought if the admissions office is this nice, I can only imagine what the school is
like,” says Goering.
“I have always wanted to go into private practice, so the practice management
classes at Ketchum University were what really stood out to me, as well as the
history and reputation for producing top clinicians.”
He says his instincts were right. He loves the school. But the work has been challenging, he adds. “The professors expect so much from us, which is good because it pushes us to be the best that we can be. I just didn’t realize how much we would have to learn on our own outside of lecture,” he says.
“But I’m kind of a big nerd so I do study a lot,” he adds. His studies have been challenging for other reasons too. His mother was diagnosed two years ago with another form of cancer. He went to visit her this summer, knowing it may be the last time he sees her.
“The hardest part for me is trying to stay focused and not get caught up in the what-ifs,” he says, adding that his mother has been an inspiration to him. She has made a list of about 100 things she wants to do before she passes and has been ticking them off the
list, despite her illness.
The U.S. Army is paying for Goering’s education. When he graduates, he will go on active duty, then later join the reserves. Ultimately, he hopes to open his own practice.
He and his wife enjoy visiting the beaches of Southern California and taking Ryder, their Australian Shepard, on long hikes.
“My wife and I love to explore and try new foods and different restaurants, go to the beach, hike,” he says. “It’s mostly just stuff to let go and unwind.”
Editor’s Note: At the time of publication, we are deeply saddened to share that Michael’s mother has passed away. The entire Ketchum community extends their deepest condolences to Michael during this difficult time.