Rishy Chacko

Rider Profile
HometownMorton Grove, IL
UniversityUniversity of Illinois
MajorMaterials Science and Engineering
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Hello world! My name is Rishy Chacko. I’m a freshman in Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign. I was raised in Morton Grove, a Chicago suburb, by two wonderful parents. And I have a sister nine years younger than me who I talk to almost once every day on the phone. Growing up, I wasn’t what one could call a talkative fellow. I struggled in-group situations; I still do. I liked activities that didn’t take many people; I would rather read than play outside; I would watch TV rather than go out with friends to the movies; and I’d rather play videogames in my room rather than with friends. When I got to high school, I decided that I was tired of doing things by myself. In high school, I joined just about every academic club my school offered. Every day suddenly became a group event, and I realized it was fun. And while studying for academic competitions was often daunting or tiring, I probably had more fun in a single day of high school than I had in a year of middle school. Four years of high school passed by in the blink of an eye and suddenly I was in college. I picked my major because it brought together so much of what I loved in high school. The material scientist works in an interdisciplinary field that requires multiple practices. While material science is akin to a union between chemistry and physics, it requires many other disciplines to function properly. I loved chemistry and physics, but I also loved collaborating with others. When it comes to the Illini 4000, I wanted to be part of a collaborative effort that attempted to help fight for a noble cause. The fight against cancer is one taken up by millions as a life or death battle; groups like the Illini 4000 do what they can to help out those that are fighting for their lives.

Personal Statement

It’s hard to get a large group of people to agree on any one thing. Even something as trivial as the best ice cream flavor can lead to heated debates with people picking sides ranging from ‘vanilla’ to ‘chunky-monkey’. But, if I were to ask what the single worst thing they could imagine happening to them or a loved one was, many would cite cancer. Cancer has single-handedly climbed to the top of a loathsome metaphorical ladder when it comes to being misunderstood, feared, and hated. The problem with cancer is that it’s complicated by both genetic predispositions and environmental factors; people struggle to understand why they have it and what they can do about it. While I have not lost a loved one, I too have seen both beloved family members and friends take up the fight against cancer. And while I have had the delight of seeing them come on the other side smiling, others are not so lucky. Millions annually hear the worst news; they hear that their loved ones are leaving them and nothing is going to stop their departure. Research could delay this unfortunate departure; research could prevent the devastating loss of loved ones. The Illini 4000 is one small ripple in the large ocean that is the fight against cancer. The chance to make a contribution that could save millions of lives and save even more loved ones pain and suffering. The fight against cancer is one that anyone can join and support, it is something we are duty-bound to do with pride because cancer is not discriminatory. While today the luxury of being cancer free might be with you, tomorrow it could be haunting you.