Landon Mance is a case study of how hard work and razor sharp time management makes it possible for a UVA-Wise student to have success in a stringent academic field and on the football field. Those same skills also make him a trailblazer.

Mance made UVA-Wise history when he was selected as the College’s first Rochavich Scholar to the Edward Via College of Medicine. UVA-Wise graduates have success in medical school, and Mance is the first Highland Cavalier to receive this particular designation from VCOM. He decided to give it a try last spring.

“I’m extremely excited to be selected as a Rochavich Scholar, and I’m proud to be the first from this school,” the Richlands resident said. “I hope this will pave the way for future students who want to practice medicine to look into this program.”

Mance, known for his strong work ethic in the classroom and at Smith Stadium, has always been interested in biological sciences. He began his studies at Wise with an eye toward general biology.

“I would have done the pre-med track, but I doubted myself at the time, and I wasn’t sure if I could handle all of the classes or to get into medical school,” he said. “My first year was definitely eye opening, and I had to adjust to the coursework as well as the athletic obligations.”

Mance is a member of the Highland Cavalier football team. Tackling academics and fulfilling athletic obligations is not easy, but Mance proves it is possible. The solution for Mance was to make time between classes and football to study and do homework. Late night study sessions were a necessity.

“I was able to make good grades, which boosted my confidence,” he said. “I switched my major to cell and molecular biology and decided that it was possible to become a doctor if I worked hard.”

Mance credits Professor Michael Shell, his advisor, for guiding him through the application process for medical school and the Rochavich Scholar journey. Professor Bruce Cahoon also made a difference, Mance added.

“Professor Cahoon has made a significant difference in my undergraduate experience by allowing me to work in his lab over the summer and introducing me to research,” Mance said.

Head Football Coach Dane Damron and Coach Mike Compton also helped Mance balance academics and athletics.

“I have had the opportunity to play football at the collegiate level, which has been a great experience,” Mance said. “All in all, the professors, my coaches, teammates and friends have all supported me in some way and made a meaningful difference during my time here. They have made me feel at home here in Wise.”

UVA-Wise, Mance said, prepared him for what he will face when he begins medical school. He credits the strenuous schedule of academics and athletics for teaching him responsibility, the importance of hard work, and time management. The liberal arts curriculum he has been exposed to at Wise gives him an advantage, he added.

“UVA-Wise has elucidated the importance of the liberal arts during my time here, and has shown the importance of eclecticism and ethics,” Mance said.

The senior is looking forward to medical school. He has researched VCOM and believes the faculty, staff and students are excellent and are supportive of one another.

“I am looking forward to joining the VCOM family,” he said.

Mance originally planned to focus on family practice and primary healthcare but is keeping his options open.

“New experiences have led me to also look into other areas, including biomedical research, mission medicine, and sports medicine,” he said. “Luckily, VCOM can prepare me for a future career in any of these areas.”