Ben Eichman admits that academics weren’t a priority for him when he entered Cumberland Valley High School as a freshman in 2013-14.

“I was really driven by my sports,” recalled Eichman, 17, now a CV senior who once competed on the school’s wrestling and rugby teams. In fact, he finished third in the Top 100 Wrestling Tournament in 2014.

All that changed in the 10th grade, however, when Eichman suffered a shoulder injury from wrestling that permanently placed him on the sidelines and forced him to re-evaluate his priorities.

“I couldn’t do sports the way I wanted to. I was really depressed, but then I thought maybe I could give this academic thing a try,” Eichman said.

As it turned out, “this academic thing” has been just the thing for Eichman. He’s been taking college courses in addition to his class work at Cumberland Valley since the end of 10th grade. This semester he’s studying effective speaking and Spanish I at Harrisburg Area Community College and plans to finish out his senior year at CV with Spanish II and science courses from HACC.

At CV, Eichman now carries a weighed GPA of 92.5. He was named 2016 Student of the Year by the West Shore Elk Lodge; Best Team Player by the Mercy College 2016 Leadership Academy; and is on HACC’s Dean’s List for 2016 Collegiate Courses with a 4.0 GPA.

“Ben is a dedicated student who has a thirst for knowledge. His maturity in the classroom is evident in everything he does. He displays many of the same characteristics that can be seen in our finest leaders,” said Cumberland Valley High School guidance counselor Eric Landis. “Ben strives to do the best in everything that he encounters, is honest, and is a supporter of his peers.”

Eichman plans to apply to several colleges, including Penn State University and the University of Pittsburgh. He wants to major in business with possible minors in religion and economics. For this, Eichman already has a head start. Upon graduating from CV in June 2017, he’ll have 31 college credits under his belt, the equivalent of a year’s worth of college studies.

Outside of school, Eichman works as a Starbucks barista, for which he’s also received recognition. Since May 2015, he’s received three Starbucks Moves of Uncommon Greatness, or M.U.G. Awards for strong work ethic and focus; strong work ethic and positive attitude; and for coaching and leadership of the barista team.

“I like working at Starbucks because there’s constantly people there to talk to," Eichman said. "There are diverse groups of people coming in every day. My favorite part is working the drive-thru and making it like an experience that’s special for everyone."

Eichman also is a member of St. Paul’s United Church of Christ, Mechanicsburg, and Young Life, a non-denominational Christian ministry for adolescents, where he is a music leader. He credits God and Jesus Christ as two of the largest influences in his life.

“I’m really strong in my faith. I am most proud of myself for staying abstinent from drugs and alcohol during my high school career," he said. "It is apparent to me that I would not have the opportunities in front of me had I succumbed to peer pressure. I thank God and Jesus Christ for this."

Eichman also credits his parents, Scott and Colleen Eichman of Mechanicsburg, as big influences for him.

“My dad is such a hard worker. He’s lost cartilage in both of his knees, but goes to work no matter what,” Eichman said. “My mom is such a big support. She’s always been there for me.”

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