University of Wisconsin student has sights set on curing colon cancer

Keven Stonewall isn’t your average 19-year-old college student.

Sure, he likes to hang out with his friends, loves music — everything from Beethoven to Kanye West — and is involved in campus activities. But he also might cure colon cancer one day.

He started his quest for a cure when he was 17, working as an intern at Rush University, and he’s already had successful and enlightening research.

His experiment consisted of injecting the cancer-treating drug mitoxantrone into both young and old mice, then injecting aggressive colon cancer cells. In just three days, the vaccine was found to be 100% effective on the younger mice. Not only were their tumors gone, but they also showed immunity to colon cancer. The older mice, however, were still affected by the cancer.

The results have prompted development of a new vaccine for elderly people with the disease.

“Whenever I’m curious about something, regardless of what subject it is, I always put 120% into it,” Stonewall says. “I want to end this disease, and I want to try to cure it.”

Originally from Chicago, Stonewall is a rising sophomore at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he serves as a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) ambassador and is studying microbiology.

“Academics is where it is for me,” he says. “I feel like I’ve grown as an individual and grown as a leader, and I feel like Wisconsin is helping me become the person I want to be.”

Part of Stonewall’s growth as a leader is due to his involvement in The Posse Foundation, where talented students are selected and trained “to serve as a catalyst for increased individual and community development,” according to UW-Madison’s Posse program website.

“I feel pretty honored to be a Posse Scholar, because it was very competitive to get the scholarship in high school,” he says. “It also helped me understand why I might be a leader, and it kind of just motivated me to be more of a leader.”

Once Stonewall graduates college, he wants to go to medical school to become an oncologist, and he hopes the research he’s doing now will be paying off by then.

“I want to do research for a reason. I want to use this research to help the patients that I’ll interact with on a daily basis,” he says.

It’s clear Stonewall has a passion for what he does, and he encourages others to follow their passion, as he does with all his effort.

“Whatever you have a passion for, just go all in for it, and don’t ever let somebody tell you that you can’t do anything,” he says, “because the possibilities are endless if you have a passion for it.”

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