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May 31, 2020

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15 minutes with Landon Cluts

"Just remember that you come from Bluffton, a small Northwest Ohio town that has watched you grow up over the years and they are still going to be here to support you along the way."

As this year's graduation fast approaches, the Icon looks to past valedictorians of Bluffton High School to inspire this year's graduates as they set sail on adventures unknown.

The Icon managed to catch Landon Cluts for a quick chat - he is a valedictorian of the class of 2014.

What activities were you involved in as a BHS student? Feel free to include all your extra-curricular activities, even if they're from church or other organizations, not just school. 

I was a member of the soccer team and tennis team for three years, the Quiz Bowl team for 4 years, the Latin Club, Math club, Jazz Band, the high school Strings Orchestra, Show Choir, Marching band, and a member of the Bluffton Sardines.  I was also an active member of the First Mennonite Church Youth Group and served as a youth liason for the FMC worship committee. I also participated in several musicals and plays throughout my time at Bluffton High School.

What of the above were your favorite(s)? Why was it your favorite?  Are you still doing any part of that activity now?

My favorite of these activities were all those involving music and the swim team. I have continued to play guitar in my spare time and have actually decided to take more guitar lessons this summer. I try to get into the pool as much as I can (sadly never as much as I want to). All of these activities had immense importance to me and they all get credit for helping me get to where I am today.

What was your least favorite class from high school? 

This is a hard question. I think my least favorite class in high school was probably Econ/Soc. Being five years out from high school I realized how important the lessons were that were being taught in this class and I am disappointed that it was only a semester because it could have been helpful to have more time with the material.

What achievement(s), if anything, are you most proud of from your high school career? Did you get the academic award for any classes? Were you part of a winning sports team? Did you just survive gym class or did you thrive there? 

The award that I am most proud of the was the Louis Armstrong Jazz Award. It was an honor to be recognized in an activity that I worked so hard at for so long and it felt like a good ending to a long music career at BHS. I also received the Anatomy class award my senior year because, looking back on it, it helped reassure myself that I am on a career path in something that I am passionate about and am able to succeed in.

Where are you now? Did you go to college, what did you study, what do you do for a living, etc? Married? Kids?

I attended The Ohio State University and majored in Neuroscience with a minor in Clinical Psychology and Individual Differences. While there I worked as an office assistant for Torres House and at Shirley’s Popcorn in Westerville. I also spent time in Ghana with the Akumanyi Foundation and as a camp counselor at Camp Friedenswald and picked up skydiving. Finally, I worked in a cancer research lab for 4 years where I worked on the role of certain small molecules and their role in cancer development. I am currently about to finish my first year of medical school at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.  I will be doing various research projects this summer and throughout the rest of my time in medical school. My current plan is to become an Orthopaedic Trauma surgeon, but, hey, plans change, so who knows.

What advice do you have for the BHS graduates of 2019? What would you tell your newly-graduated self, as you left the high school building after graduation day?

Going to college or moving on to the work force is a massive change from the security of the high school. I only thought I was going to drop out 12 times on my first day of college. A new place, new people, new idea, and new opportunities are what await you wherever you go. My best advice to you is to take a risk. Plunge yourself into something new and break out of your comfort zone. You will be nervous, possibly terrified, but so is everyone else and you absolutely will find where you belong wherever you are at. Find a great mentor and group of friends and they will help you adjust and help you succeed. Just remember that you come from Bluffton, a small Northwest Ohio town that has watched you grow up over the years and they are still going to be here to support you along the way. Things have a way of working themselves out. As a patient told me recently “It’s a beautiful, painful, wonderful life” and it is your time to go out and be a part of and enjoy it. Good luck Class of 2019, and welcome. 

Please note, Cluts is one of eleven valedictorians from the class of 2014.