2020 high school graduate and cancer survivor plans for a future in medicine
While he is known by many in the community as a gifted pianist, Jonah Grieser, who graduated from Logos School in Moscow on Saturday, said he plans to study medicine in college rather than pursue a degree in the arts.
Diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia — a cancer of the blood and bone marrow — just before starting the fifth grade, he said this experience inspired him to care for others in similar circumstances.
Jonah’s mother, Hannah Grieser, said three and a half years of cancer treatment gave him a deeply personal insight into health care, noting it is not uncommon for childhood cancer survivors to seek a career in medicine.
“He overcame a lot — he missed almost his entire fifth grade year of school, just in and out of the hospital,” Hannah said. “He’s a really smart kid (and) was able to catch up on what he missed — he did a lot of it while he was away and jumped right back in with his class and was able to graduate with them.”
Jonah said he is particularly interested in oncology, the branch of medicine dealing specifically with cancer, but he is open to other specialties as well.
While he doesn’t plan to study music in college, Jonah said piano will always be a part of his life.
“I started when I was 3 — I was just playing around on the piano and then my parents decided ‘well, he seems interested, why not just give it a shot?’ ” he said. “It worked out, and I’ve really enjoyed it ever since … I’ve definitely had some great teachers who’ve helped me along the way that I’m thankful for.”
Jonah said he is particularly taken with music composed by Bach, whom, he contends, writes some of the most beautiful and evocative melodies.
“He just has such an ability to write both really fast and fun tunes,” Jonah said. “But at the same time, he can also write really beautiful slower tunes — both of which are really enjoyable to play because you get different textures and experiences.”
Jonah said graduating in the midst of a pandemic has not been ideal, but he’s grateful for the hard work his teachers have put in to ensure education was uninterrupted during the turmoil.
While he admits he’s “not amazing at math,” Jonah is known to at least some of his teachers for his determination to learn. Loren Euhus, who teaches math and physics at Logos, among other subjects, said that skill of perseverance will serve him well in whatever career he chooses. He said Jonah may not be the first student to come up with an answer, but he knows how to work hard and he doesn’t give up easily.
“That’s going to take him a long way — he’ll look at a physics problem or something tough and he’ll sweat it and struggle and he’ll come after school and figure it out,” Euhus said. “He will figure it out, I mean, he gets As — it doesn’t always click right out of the chute for him, but he’s … tenacious.”