Landon Hackley was a high school sophomore in Arlington when a biology teacher helped him discover his passion for medical science. Just as that fire began burning brightly, he got a phone call that stopped him in his tracks in the school halls. His father had suffered a heart attack and needed emergency surgery. He considers the convergence of these two life events a “God moment” that put him on a solid path toward medicine.
Today, Landon is a biomedical engineering junior at UT and a force of nature. “I thought if I could learn how to build the instruments I may use one day as a doctor, that would be pretty sweet — to know both sides.”
On top of trying to complete a challenging academic program, he is the coordinator of Dell Medical School’s Health Leadership Apprentice Program, where he helps organize the activities of about 100 undergraduates.
Landon plans to go to medical school and become a surgeon like the one who saved his father’s life. But he’s not satisfied merely to do that; he also is a social entrepreneur, again an avocation that began in high school, when he founded his first charity at age 17. The organization gathered donations, and counsellors distributed them discreetly them to homeless teens.
In 2018, Landon and two other Longhorns took first place in a team competition at Johns Hopkins University, a “hackathon” in which students brainstormed solutions to medical problems. Their winning proposal addressed the problem of “food deserts,” urban areas that lack adequate access to fresh food. The UT team designed a food delivery service to reduce this problem. And the problem is real: Texas has the second-highest rate of food insecurity in America, according to experts.
Landon is stirring many different pots, but one thing seems certain: Whatever he does, he’ll be serving Texas from at least one of them.