Chemistry major/Biology minor
“I’m not sure how much I believe in fate, but it’s too much of a coincidence that I just happened to go to Wittenberg and I happened to get involved with Habitat for Humanity and I just so happened to travel to Lesotho.”
From the moment she stepped on campus, Betty Cheney felt right at home at Wittenberg.
“It wasn’t anything tangible, just the gut feeling that everything would work out if I came to Wittenberg,” Cheney said. “Although there have been some challenges along the way, I was raised to value education, as well as service and leadership. It took time, but I think I finally achieved a good balance between academics, service and having fun.”
Cheney served four years as secretary to the class of 2010, in addition to leadership positions in Wittenberg’s active chapter of Habitat for Humanity. As a sophomore, she served as vice president before moving into the president position the last two years.
“After my initial positive experience with Habitat for Humanity, I knew I wanted to share it with as many Wittenberg students as possible,” Cheney said. “It was easy to see the ‘Wittenberg bubble’ when you’re on the outside of it and working in the Springfield community. It may take you a step out of the comfort zone of campus, but it is worthwhile.”
In addition to the countless hours Cheney worked for Habitat for Humanity in and around the Springfield area, she volunteered at least 100 hours at Mercy Medical Center during her freshman and sophomore years. She also traveled to the impoverished African kingdom of Lesotho with a Wittenberg group to work with Habitat of Humanity and local orphanages in 2008 in 2009, spending a full two months guiding to two separate groups the second year as a student chaperone.
“There is no doubt in my mind that my experiences with Habitat for Humanity and Lesotho have shaped who I am today and the person I want to become,” she said. “Through Habitat for Humanity, it is possible to make a tangible difference in the life of another person. At the same time, it is impossible to imagine the intangible impact homeownership can have for a family.
“I wish words could describe the impact Lesotho has had on me,” Cheney continued. “It has been almost two years since I first traveled to the Lesotho, and I still have a tough time explaining and describing the wide range of emotion that I experienced. Whether we were at one of the many service sites, hearing a lecture from a visiting professor or playing with the children in the village, I knew I had found my home away from home.”
Most importantly, Cheney said she finally had “a source for the strong call to serve I had felt for years.”
“I had known since age 12 that I wanted to go into medicine, and it didn’t take long for me to understand that I wanted to work abroad for some length of time,” Cheney said. “It wasn’t until I was in Lesotho that I finally understood that I was supposed to work in Lesotho. I’m not sure how much I believe in fate, but it’s too much of a coincidence that I just happened to go to Wittenberg and I happened to get involved with Habitat for Humanity and I just so happened to travel to Lesotho.”
A member of the Alpha Delta Pi sorority, her leadership positions within the Greek community included Panhellenic Council secretary, Rho Gamma (recruitment guide), and Alpha Delta Pi Guard. She has also served as a Peer Helper on campus since her sophomore year, and as a student employee for the Office of the Registrar, Cheney works as a supplemental instruction leader for the Department of Chemistry.
Recognized during the 2009 Honors Convocation as the Greek Recipient of the Alpha Delta Pi Scholarship Award and a candidate for Alma Mater, Cheney received recognition in 2010 as a Smith Scholar, a Ping Legacy award winner (Ohio Campus Compact selects only seven or eight students from a large pool of nominees), the student recipient of the Lillian B. Franklin Diversity Award and as a senior earning Wittenberg University Honors.
After graduation, Cheney will attend Boonshoft School of Medicine at Wright State University, where she will begin her journey to become a pediatrician.
“During and after medical school, I plan to return to Lesotho in order to better serve the people of Lesotho,” Cheney said. “It is an odd feeling to be homesick for a foreign country, but I can truly say that there are many days when I miss being in Lesotho. I’ve only spent three months of my 22 years in the country, but a majority of my growth and development has been a result of my experiences there. I’m so glad that Wittenberg helped me find my direction and purpose in life.”
Written By: Phyllis Eberts