Southern California man shapes surfboards to pay off student loans – NBC 7 San Diego


Being a medical student is an achievement. Being a medical student and then becoming a dental student instead is double the feat…and expensive.

John Hannah, who lives in Redlands, Calif., grew up hearing his father, a surgeon, discuss medical cases over the dinner table. Naturally, when the teenager realized how much he loved listening to these conversations, he went to medical school.

But it didn’t last long.

“I did the first two years of med school and got a little burned out,” said Hannah, who admits he was looking for a more relaxed and balanced lifestyle.

A mentor encouraged Hannah to pursue dentistry rather than the medical field. After observing and learning more about the profession, he had an a-ha! instant and applied.

“It was a thorough pre-plank check,” Hannah said.

Rock and Sea Garage Board Shop

John Hannah with one of his boards

In transitioning from one career to another, Hannah found herself with something he never seemed to have enough of before: time. He had a gap year between medical school and what he calls “dental school”, but for someone who loves to create and build, it was only a matter of weeks before he start a new hobby.

“I always wanted to make surfboards, I always thought it was such a fun thing, but I didn’t have the time,” Hannah said. “[Iwas}justtotallyslammedinschool”[Iwas}justtotallyslammedinschool”[J’étais}justetotalementclaquéeàl’école”[Iwas}justtotallyslammedinschool”

At first Hannah fashioned surfboards for friends and classmates, but eventually her hobby turned into a business that is now known as the Rock and Sea Garage Board Shop. The company is now helping to pay for some of the high student loans Hannah had to take out to pay for medical and dental school.

“When I started it was about $75,000 a year, not including living expenses, so most kids were getting by with about $300,000 in debt and that’s a ton to digest,” said Hannah, who spent two years in Loma Linda University medical school before. begin another four-year dental path at the same facility.

Hannah said dental school is even more expensive than medical school, costing her around $100,000 a year. He is almost in his fourth and final year.

“Over the years, every year, taking on more student loans, it definitely weighs on you,” Hannah said. “While I was shaping surfboards, a light bulb went out. I made this connection that I could take this beautiful hobby that I deeply enjoy – it’s definitely an art form – and I could use it to help pay off student loans.

This story is part of Connect the Dots, a series that shows how seemingly unrelated aspects of our lives are connected to each other. Watch the video above to see the connections between surfing, student loans and grocery bags.


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