When I met Drew Cardoza, a junior and an electrical engineering major from Red Lodge, Montana, he was wearing a white hoodie with the popular slogan “Just Do It” printed across the front. Now, I cannot think of anyone who embodies this slogan better.
When Cardoza was 11 years old, his mother was in a serious car accident that left her in a coma for the next five years before she passed away. He struggled with depression and gained quite a bit of weight. “I was just struggling with the depression of [losing my mother], and I ended up at one point weighing 286 pounds,” Cardoza said. “At the worst point, I didn’t even want to go to college.”
After graduating from high school, Cardoza came to terms with the loss of his mother one step at a time. When he visited her grave he came to realize that “My mother wouldn’t want me to be upset. So I decided, ‘I’m losing the weight, I’m going to be a happier person,’ and that is what I shot for.” After this realization, Cardoza lost 60 pounds in the three months between graduation and coming to MSU.
When Cardoza came to MSU, he found an outlet in the MSU Cycling Club. “I tried out and I didn’t really feel like I was strong enough yet so I laid low and just kept working out and working at it and ended up losing about 100 pounds [total]. By the end of it, I weighed about 195 pounds.” Cardoza said.
The next challenge for Cardoza was cycling up Beartooth Pass, a 6,000 foot climb. “I decided that I was going to do this and that I needed to do this and as I was cycling I felt really connected with my mother,” he said. “It was like she was helping me through [the climb]. She is my biggest motivation and inspiration.”
Before coming to MSU and joining the cycling team, Cardoza had never participated in a sport. “What’s funny is if you asked any of my classmates who was going to end up in collegiate sports, I would be the last person they would pick,” Cardoza said.
“I don’t just want to be a badass of the week, I want to be an inspiration of the week,” he explained. “When things are hard on you, just keep working at it and you will be surprised at how much you can accomplish.”
A strong message Cardoza said he wanted to get across was that, “No matter how hard things get, they get better, and only you can make it better.”