For most students, attending college is a transformational experience.
But for David White, who is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in statistics , the past four years at Carnegie Mellon University has transformed him more than most.
When White arrived as a freshman in 2015, he weighed 311 pounds. Today the Cleveland, Ohio, native is a svelte 190. He credits much of his dynamic physical transformation to Carnegie Mellon.
"I was very overweight, and I think I had an eating disorder," said White, 22.
So, in early December 2015, while lying on his Mudge House dorm room bed, he was inspired by a story of someone losing more than 100 pounds and resolved to shed some pounds of his own.
"For a couple weeks I made my way through some frankly embarrassing attempts at working out," White said. "It was difficult. I could barely run a mile. But I kept at it."
With the help of university fitness facilities and a CMU app that measures the calories of campus meals, White began to make progress.
After restricting himself to 2,000 calories a day and dropping 19 pounds in his first two months of exercise, he set a goal of weighing 200 pounds by Jan. 1, 2017.
For most students, attending college is a transformational experience. But for David White, who is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in statistics, the past four years at Carnegie Mellon University have transformed him more than most.
When his deadline arrived, he was anxious to measure his progress.
"I missed the mark by 5 pounds, but that was a great day," White said. "Since then I’ve lost 15 more pounds, and now I feel that I’m at a comfortable weight."
His 11-minute mile in 2015 is now an 8.5 minute three-mile run. And his bench press has improved by 60 pounds.
But White knew he needed to keep off the weight he had lost. When he returned for his sophomore year, he was helped by a range of new fitness facilities at the renovated Cohon University Center.
"Without the fitness center and without the nutrition app I don’t think I would have been so determined to lose weight," he said. "I felt that I had the tools to change my life.
"The weight loss and my overall health improving has had an effect on every other part of my life - my social life, my studies and just having more energy."
And as he transformed, White was empowered to pursue his academic interest of enhancing sports through statistics.
While at CMU, the lifelong sports fan created models to predict the success of prospective players for the NFL draft. He is now working on a way of improving the logistics of seeding teams in the NCAA basketball tournament.
"With my degree, I’m making headway on research that no one else has done before," said While, who has a job as a MilliporeSigma data scientist waiting for him in St. Louis after graduation.
"At the end of the day, I came to Carnegie Mellon because I wanted to get a degree so I could get a job and support myself and support my family," he said. "But I didn’t expect along the way to also have my life changed in so many other ways."