In May, 2014 John Kempf completed his first step toward his lifelong goal of becoming a professional training facility owner and strength and conditioning specialist by earning his bachelor’s degree in kinesiology at WSU. Thanks to scholarship support, this first-generation graduate is now ready to “pass on the love” and put his knowledge and skills to use helping others.
Tell us how scholarships helped you make the move from “WSU student” to “WSU alumnus”…
I would not be who I am today with without the WSU education I have been blessed with. The entire process shaped me through the years and has been the most beneficial achievement in my life to date. None of this would have been possible without scholarships. They allowed me to not only attend college, but to meet my living expenses and focus on my schoolwork. I am extremely grateful that I had the chance to be educated at WSU. My education has equipped me with the knowledge and skills to go into the world and create a positive impact. I just want to help change lives and do good things. My scholarships made this possible—something that no one in my family has ever done.
I have a very close bond with my mom, who raised me by herself. Life was hard—there were times that she couldn’t afford rent and we had to leave our home, or when we had to stay with friends or family and I would sleep on the floor while she slept on the couch. She sacrificed everything she could for my benefit. I will never forget her praying at night, thanking God for the roof over our head and the food (when we had it) on our table. After graduating from high school, I got a job in a factory to help provide for my sister and her children. I didn’t really know the full breath of what college was at that time and assumed I never would. I know firsthand that life can be hard. But I learned that you must never give up! Moving to Pullman and leaving behind the children I had raised as a father figure for nearly half my life was one of the hardest and, looking back, best things did. I made it to WSU and ensured that I wouldn’t someday recreate this same cycle of poverty for my own children. My mom poured her entire heart and soul into her children. She bumped me from a poor, uneducated laborer to an inspired, motivated college student and the man I am today. She is an angel.
Even though I’ve always loved movement and sports, I came to WSU without a clear idea of what I wanted to be. Honestly, I kind of stumbled through the first two years of school and somehow ended up in a kinesiology class my sophomore year. I love it. I’d discovered my passion! The human body is fascinating. I use movement to tell my story and change my life, and I plan to use it to help change the lives of countless others, too.
What is your dream job, and what makes it your dream job?
My dream is to create a positive change in the world. I want to help people improve their quality of life in every way possible. I dream about someday owning a professional training facility where I would coach athletes of every variety and perform research with my fellow colleagues, who would share my desire for knowledge and growth. I love writing and plan to write books on topics that include exercise and the brain, mirror neurons, strength and conditioning, nutrition, and biomechanics, to name a few.
You’ve just graduated, what is your next step?
I am using the added free time to read through the stacks of articles and books I collected while I was in college but didn’t have a chance to get to. I have a passion for learning and believe that the endless pursuit of knowledge leads to success and happiness. I am working with some fitness colleagues to develop a blog that will serve as a helpful resource to people looking to live a healthier, more active life, and am also creating my own personal training/coaching business online. Eventually, I will apply to graduate school and further my education.
I love the atmosphere in Pullman. The beautiful weather—every season—creates a buzz and energy around campus that inspires everyone to be active. Everyone is out and about, meeting new friends, reconnecting with old friends, creating new memories.
Balancing work, school, and other activities can be stressful. How did you find balance?
I am a yoga instructor, and I really enjoy yoga and meditation as ways to decrease stress and improve overall life quality. I find calm and balance in the practice. I encourage everyone to try it out and feel the benefits for themselves.
What are three things about you that might surprise your friends?
- I really enjoy reading and writing. Knowledge is important. We must always be sifting through new information and constantly investigating its merit. I encourage everyone to write down their thoughts because I believe self-reflection is a vital part of understanding our purpose.
- I need sunlight and warm weather in my life. I grew up in Montana and love Pullman, but I crave the sunshine.
- Spongebob Squarepants is my favorite cartoon and I still watch it to this day. I’ve been called Patrick Star because of my similarities to the character.