David Cummins

May 25, 2022

On WWU Give Day, your gift helps students like David Cummins. 

A biochemistry major, David grew up in a chaotic household. He never thought college would be possible for him. He started a cleaning business and supported his first wife and two children with it. He instilled in his children the importance of a college education, but as he spoke, he realized he needed to follow his own advice.

In addition to telling his children to go to college, he modeled it. He enrolled at Whatcom Community College and then came to Western. After successfully completing biochemistry as an undergraduate, he will soon pursue his master’s at Western in chemistry. With support from the Larry Heimark Scholarship, the Student Emergency Fund, and the Marion van Nostrand Scholarship, David is able to stay in school and create a bright future for himself and his growing family. His second wife just gave birth a few weeks ago. David has even more inspiration for success.

“Dr. Clint Spiegel took me under his wing and laid out a path to graduation. He let me join his lab and even during shutdown, he continued to teach me hands-on in the lab. I didn’t have any role models growing up, so having him mentor me showed me so much insight.”

With an unstable background, David learned a lot from his mentor, Dr. Matthew Zinkgraf of Biology. He showed David what life as a professor, a scientist, a husband, and a father looks like. David learned from him how he balances family and work life.

“I went to family barbecues and met his daughter. I saw how a family functioned outside the classroom and work.”

That impression was very meaningful to David.

David is also working with Dr. Jay McCarty in groundbreaking research of mutating proteins to find better pathways for treating cancer.

“Every professor is a rock star. They put so much effort, and the way they pulled through the pandemic is just incredible. They were balancing families and childcare issues and helping us through those times, and they’ve been amazing.”

David also benefitted from the Student Emergency Fund, finding those infusions of emergency financial support essential during the pandemic. “If that wasn’t there, I don’t know what would’ve happened to my education.”

This WWU Give Day, please support students like David.

At 32, David started over, and he’s never looking back. “School is a viable and beautiful outlet. You’re not too old to make a big change. Education changes your life forever.”