Major: Pre-med Biology and English
Jo Goykhberg can say something not many people can—the “future schedule” he imagined for himself as a 6-year-old is remarkably similar to the one he’s pursuing today.
He’d envisioned being a veterinarian, a poet, an English teacher, a doctor and a “good parent,” all in a day’s work. And this past summer, he made steps toward these goals—Goykhberg worked in wildlife rehabilitation at City Wildlife and studied for his MCAT, preparing to apply to medical school. He’s also working at Sears think[box] while pursuing two majors in English and biology, aiming to build a skill set that serves him professionally and personally.
“I think that’s more important to me than my actual career—learning about everything I can while still being a good friend and family member,” he explained. “I think I’ve succeeded in that.”
It’s possible he’d be on a completely different path had he not chosen to attend Case Western Reserve University. His mother insisted he tour campus, and so he did—on a dreary April day in 2018.
“Despite the Cleveland weather, I fell in love,” he noted. “[The Tink] and the Peter B. Lewis Building were so impressive, and I loved think[box]. Something just felt right about the campus. And I’m glad my life worked out the way that it did.”
A transgender man, Goykhberg has found a support system at the university that goes beyond the classroom. He said he’s had a tough time managing his transition and has suffered from mental health issues, both related and unrelated to being transgender, but his experiences at CWRU have helped him persevere.
“Everyone at CWRU is incredibly supportive, and I’ve never faced any transphobia from my professors,” he explained, noting the significance of this as he sometimes feels like he’s “living a double life.”
Just this year, Goykhberg began addressing his mental health in a productive way and has found coping mechanisms that work for him. It helps he found a job he loves as a student technician at think[box]—a place he can be found in his free time, too.
“Sometimes the things that feel almost impossible (getting out of bed, getting dressed, leaving the house) are the things that will actually help you,” he said. “Being open with my professors about my ability to make it to class or meet their deadlines, and getting a job that I like and that forces me to leave the house, were the two things that really made this semester a turning point for me.”
Also in his time at Case Western Reserve, Goykhberg has served as the president of Writers Writing Words, CWRU’s student creative writing club. When he graduates, he plans on taking a gap year to apply to medical schools. He hopes to one day become a hospitalist—a career that would make his 6-year-old self proud.