Excellence through adversity

Jonathon Huckvale enjoys academic and career success

A Camas man who experienced several challenges while in high school would like local students to know there is hope for them to succeed in life.

Jonathon Huckvale, a 2003 Camas High School graduate, recently earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing communications from Brigham Young University, in Provo, Utah. In addition to being in the top 10 percent of his class, he was accepted into the Golden Key International Honor Society.

Huckvale was recruited and hired by Sentry Insurance, where he is involved in commercial business insurance, in the Portland and Vancouver areas. He recently took the Graduate Management Admission Test, and he plans to pursue a master’s in business administration.

Huckvale has already been accepted to the University of Southern California and Marylhurst University. He has not yet made a decision, as he awaits replies from other schools.

Tackling life’s challenges

It has not been an easy road — literally — for Huckvale.

In 2000, he was hospitalized for strep, pneumonia, kidney failure, collapsed lungs and appendicitis. Huckvale lost 55 pounds while he was in the hospital for three weeks.

In November 2001, Huckvale was seriously injured in a auto accident. He was driving his father and two younger brothers in an SUV, from Camas to a BYU-Utah football game in Provo.

The accident involved two semi-trucks crowding the SUV and Huckvale over-correcting the vehicle.

The SUV went over a soft shoulder at 85 mph.

“I remember my father gasping loudly, followed by the deafening sound of glass and metal crunching,” Huckvale wrote in an article published on Rivals.com. “The cabin darkened as the vehicle seemingly never ceased to stop rolling.”

A paramedic told Huckvale the vehicle rolled eight times, and his arm had been crushed between the car and ground several times. He had major reconstructive surgery on his left arm and hand. The passengers walked away from the accident in fair condition.

Ten hours after the surgery, Huckvale’s father “kidnapped” him from the hospital and took him to the game at LaVell Edwards Stadium.

“I sat during the entire game with my arm propped up on my father’s shoulder,” he wrote. “Even though I don’t remember a lot of what happened, I still remember how I felt after Brandon Doman pitched it to Luke Staley as he ran it in the end zone for the winning touchdown.

“ESPN even took notice of my condition as they zoomed in on us right before Jernaro Gilford stepped in front of the Ute pass and ended the game,” Huckvale added.

He said he learned a lot from the accident.

“While nobody’s life is perfect, nothing is impossible,” Huckvale wrote. “Everybody has a purpose in this life. Find that purpose and fulfill it. Believe in yourself and trust in God, and you will take steps you could have never taken before.”

His senior project at CHS, which focussed on sportswriting and journalism, involved writing for Cougar Illustrated on Rivals.com, Total Blue Sports Magazine on Scout.com and Lacamas Life Monthly magazine. Huckvale said he gained purpose and confidence through those experiences, and he ended up being promoted to co-publisher and senior recruiting analyst with Rivals.com before it merged with Scout.com (Fox Sports Network).

Surviving hurricanes in the South

Two months after graduating from CHS with a 1.68 grade point average, he started a two-year mission trip with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Alabama and Florida.

“I had to grow up fast,” Huckvale said.

The time in the south had a big impact on him.

Huckvale’s apartment in Mobile, Ala., was destroyed when Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005.

“I survived six hurricanes during my two years,” he said. “We were the largest cleanup and relief organization down there, so we spent about 60 hours a week for five weeks for each hurricane.

“Our church buildings were converted into American Red Cross shelters, and all of the missionaries and members of the church began [providing] full-time relief to all hurricane victims,” he added. “I spent most of my time going into people’s homes and tearing out dry wall and preparing for the homes to be repaired.”

Overcoming academic adversity

Since Huckvale had a low GPA in high school, he had to attend an open enrollment BYU satellite campus during his freshman year in Salt Lake City and work for good grades (3.7 GPA) to be admitted as part of the main campus.

“I worked my sophomore year really hard and maintained a 3.7,” he said. “I was awarded a full academic scholarship my junior year and then again was awarded a full scholarship my senior year.”

Huckvale said he was hit hard by the two suicides that occurred at Round Lake this summer.

“I remember being close to that point myself,” he said. “I really would like to reach out to the youth in my hometown or the teachers at school who have given up on those problem kids, because I really feel like if I could do this, anybody can.

“I also have lived in five different states since graduation from CHS, and my wife and I could have gone anywhere we wanted to after college. We chose to come back home to Camas because of how special of a place this is.”