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Patrick Luo

Patrick Luo BS ’21 remembers working eight- to 12-hour shifts everyday at his family’s restaurant in southern Utah to help them pay the bills and keep their home. Once, he recalls, his parents argued over whether the family would have to skip medical visits for a year to save money. 

With little to spare, college seemed out of the question. 

Then, in 2017, he received the full-ride Daniels Scholarship and was accepted to Weber State. He knew he had to make the most of the opportunity.

“I could not fail,” he said. 

That pressure drove him to become an academic success, receiving the Outstanding Student Researcher Award for the Dr. Ezekiel R. Dumke College of Health Professions in 2021. His mental health was another story. “When I did fail, I would essentially consider myself worthless, and meaningless,” he said.

Luo found help processing his failures at WSU’s Counseling & Psychological Services Center.

He discovered his coping mechanism had been getting involved in more and more activities to avoid thinking about failure. At WSU, he served as vice president of service for the WSU Student Association and vice president of the Asian Student Involvement Association and was involved in the National Society of Leadership and Success, First Gen Club, The Signpost and other organizations. Logging more than 1,520 volunteer community engagement hours, he received the 2020 Presidential Award for Community-Engaged Student. 

When COVID-19 put a hold on campus activities, his coping mechanism failed. 

“I was just super-overwhelmed, and I thought ‘I can't cope with this,’” he said.

It was then he asked for help. “I learned why I felt like an absolute failure and deserved to be punished whenever I didn’t succeed at one thing or when I received a 99% on a test instead of 100%.”

Through therapy, he found ways to accept failure, and he later shared his story through the Presidential Leadership Fellows, an exclusive group of nominated students who go through a highly selective process to serve as Weber State ambassadors while building leadership skills through monthly seminars. “If people don't talk about mental health issues, the stigma and problems behind it are never going to be addressed,” Luo said.

In fall 2021, he started the Doctor of Physical Therapy program at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. While processing his failures, he will also celebrate his accomplishments.