Striednig Soars With SAU Partnership

John Striednig headshotJohn Striednig’s first stint as a college student did not go as planned. Dropping out to join the workforce, he never stopped wondering what could have been. When a new opportunity to get into the classroom presented itself, he took it as a sign to give his education another chance.

“In the spring of 2020, I was living in Lubbock, Texas, and was sick of being away from my family in Hot Springs,” Striednig said. “I moved back home right as the COVID-19 pandemic hit. A few months later, I read an article in the newspaper about National Park College’s (NPC) partnership with Southern Arkansas University (SAU) to offer four-year bachelor’s degrees. I already wanted to go back to school and it seemed like the perfect fit for me.”

Striednig quickly signed up for online courses and by the fall of 2021, he was back in the classroom with a fulltime class load.

“Once I did some learning as an adult and realized a little about the different specialties you can get into as a doctor, psychiatry was one that sparked my passion,” Striednig said. “I’ve always wanted to be a doctor, since I was 11 or 12. I have several family members who have dealt with mental illness. It’s a very important subject for me.”

As a nontraditional student returning to school at the helm of a brand-new program, Striednig embraced each challenge with a positive attitude.

“We’re not guinea pigs—we’re trailblazers,” Striednig said. “By taking a very mature approach to our education, we gained character development and other skills that we wouldn’t have had otherwise. The benefit we got for that was getting an education right here for not as much money. I feel honored to have been part of this program.”

On May 13, Striednig graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biology – Pre-Health.John Striednig on the graduation stage with Dr. David Lanoue, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at SAU

“Walking across the stage was a huge honor for me,” Striednig said. “Before this partnership existed, students in the area that wanted to pursue a health care degree beside nursing couldn’t stick around here. I hope that by seeing us walk across the stage, it shows that it’s possible to get it done through NPC and SAU.”

Surrounded by inspirational mentors throughout his journey, Striednig attributes his success to those who supported him most.

“No one does it alone,” Striednig said. “My granddad, my parents, my brother and my sister were always there for me. In the professional sphere, Dr. Chuck Argo was a big rock for me. He was there whenever I needed him. Dr. Uttar Shrestha is also someone who has a great passion for student success. He’s the kind of teacher that makes you want to succeed for them because you don’t want to let them down.”

With degree in hand, Striednig is hard at work laying the groundwork for the year ahead.

“This summer, I’ll be researching and shadowing for 10 weeks in the Pre-Medical Summer Scholars Program at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Division for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion,” Striednig said. “While I’ll be working on professional development, volunteering and applying to med school, I also plan to take some time to travel and enjoy myself before it’s time to buckle down for the next phase.”

Reflecting on his journey, Striednig is most proud of his perseverance.

“Success comes in all forms and at different times,” Striednig said. “It isn’t always linear and no two paths look the same. I’m 29 years old. A big part of my journey was dropping out of college, doing some soul searching and taking six years to come back. The second time was when I finally got it right.”