New Waverly alumnus John Hoover vividly remembers the simple words his father would tell him each night before bed, “Son, don’t lose your focus.”
Those words have stuck with Hoover, a 2006 graduate of New Waverly High School, as he embarks on a new journey in his life. Hoover will be attending the University of Miami School of Law to pursue his dreams of being an attorney, where he plans on helping those in need battle for better health care as a litigator.
“He would tell me good night and the last thing he would tell me was that every single night, religiously,” Hoover said. “When I moved away from home and kept thinking it was too hard and that I wanted to quit, I would see my dad standing in the doorway looking at me and saying, ‘Son, don’t lose your focus.’”
Becoming a Hurricane is something Hoover has always dreamt of, and he has the track record to prove his dedication to his dream. He recalls seeing videos of himself as a kid saying he wanted to attend the school.
The achievement was something that not only Hoover wanted, but something his whole family wished for him. Hoover was officially accepted a few weeks ago, and got a letter from the university stating he had been awarded a full scholarship.
“The official scholarship letter came out on the morning of my dad’s birthday,” Hoover said. “I didn’t tell them over the phone. I knew how much this meant to me and my family and how much support they’ve given me. I knew I had to tell them in person, so I flew in to Houston on that Saturday. I showed up on his birthday and surprised him with a birthday card that had the scholarship letter inside of it. To be able to do that on his birthday was like a fairy-tale ending.”
However, the road to pursuing his dream was not an easy one. Hoover faced many obstacles early in life, including being involved in a near-fatal car accident, which left him with a traumatic brain injury, fractured skull and lacerated liver.
Hoover said that the doctors were not expecting him to live due to the severity of his injuries. Yet, Hoover didn’t let the car accident or other adversities stand in his way of pursuing a career in law.
Overall, he said that the experiences he has faced in his 30 years of life have molded him into the person he is today and have given him that drive to succeed.
“I feel like life is all about perception and perception is reality. There was a tremendous amount of adversity that I did have to endure,” Hoover said. “While I was going through this, there were times where people said that this was a sign that this isn’t for me and it wasn’t meant to be. I took that as this is life testing me to see how badly I want this and how far I’m willing to take it. The harder you work for something and the longer you pursue it, the harder it is to quit.”
Hoover not only attributes his drive and his academic success so far to his father, Bob Hoover, but also to his elementary teacher Annette Nash-O’Neal and his high school DECA teachers Gary and Beverly Roark.
“They guided me and helped me be the professional I am today,” Hoover said. “I don’t know where I would be without them and want to pay respect to them.
Hoover hopes to inspire his fellow Bulldogs, as well as other students throughout Walker County, to believe dreams can be achieved when you put your mind to it. In the future, he plans on working closely with the University of Miami to help expose the school to students in small rural communities, and provide an easy pathway to enrollment.
Overall, Hoover just wants to take what he’s learned from his teachers and family and use it to benefit his hometown community.
“I just want to inspire the small-town kids. New Waverly is up-and-coming, but it didn’t seem like the opportunities were available when I was in school,” Hoover said. “I want to let my people know that it’s possible. It doesn’t even have to be necessarily with the University of Miami. It’s more about the principle of it. There is this dream that I wanted for so long that seemed so far-fetched and I never stopped and now I’m realizing it.
“Anything that I could potentially do to help any Walker County student, 100 percent count me in. If that means I need to meet with them and give them some advice, or I need to put their information in the right hands, whatever is necessary. I just want to pay it forward because this is the best feeling I’ve ever had in my life. After fulfilling that lifelong dream, I just want to help others do the same.”