Do you remember what it was like the week before school started? The excitement of back to school shopping, getting new clothes, the haircut, and especially getting your class schedule. That one piece of paper set the tone for your entire day! That one little sheet of paper would tell you if you were going to have the hardest teachers or last period lunch.

and that was just high school!

How about your first day of college? The sense of being on your own, not having to get up at 6am to get ready to wait for the bus, the fact that you could pick and choose whatever classes you wanted, even in some cases give yourself a “snow day” although it was most likely 75 degree on a spring day?

Going back to school was/is probably one of my favorite and most memorable experiences growing up.

I say IS because last week I was invited BACK TO SCHOOL at my alma mater to present to 70+ students at Delaware Valley University. I was asked to come speak to two different classes ranging from freshman-seniors,small animal science-zoology majors; students across all demographics.


Obviously, when I was approached to come speak I immediately jumped at the opportunity and prepared for the speech to the best of my abilities. As I as I was coming up with my topics I thought “I came here for Criminal Justice, what am I going to say to a group of future veterinarians!” You would think that there was no common ground to stand on, but I thought long and hard in to the past for this one.

There was no fear that crept into my mind only subtle thoughts from old friends and past discussions that I had heard them talk about…really they were complaining which always came in 1 of 3 comments

  1. “You’re a CJ major you have it easy”
  2. “Organic Chemistry is a nightmare”
  3. “I NEED good grades to go to vet school”

As I stood in the front of the classroom and my introduction was being given I couldn’t help but laugh, because yet again, I could already hear the same comments about to be uttered by a group of individuals who were already thinking “He doesn’t understand our struggle”


So what did I talk to them about; well you’ve heard of the Big 10, right?

What about the Big 3? Fear, Direction, and Failure

The Big 3 are Old/New concepts to me because I saw them differently when I was a college student and I see them differently as a man of success. 

I knew what had to be done and I knew what had to be said so when I began to tell my own personal story of fear, failure, and how it ultimately led me in the RIGHT direction. You could see one by one everyone’s body language change from tense to relaxed and smiles began growing ear to ear.

The thing about Failure is you need it in order to grow because that will then lead you in a different Direction and even though you may feel alone, lost, or Afraid you landed there for a reason.

As a college student I tried to avoid these things because I thought they were bad for me, but as an adult I realized they were necessary for me. I assured each and every one of them, as someone who sat in the same chair in Mandell 216 that I would make every single mistake again to lead me back to who I am today. I’d go back to every party, I’d talk to every girl, and i’d go back through that agonizing day of tearing my ACL ALL OVER AGAIN to get back to who I was standing in front of them.

The struggles you’re in today will determine your strengths tomorrow.

You not only have to accept the Big 3, you have to embrace them as well, because if you don’t you’ll disappear faster than the dinosaurs.

After both presentations we had a short Q&A, everyone was engaged, laughing, and in some cases asked me questions I hadn’t ever even asked myself, but it’s what came next was a surprise to me.

The professor of the class (whom is one of my TFW Students) gave them all note cards with 3 questions on them and these were related to a big exam coming up, but there was a 4th question that said this “Was listening to Mike worth 45 minutes.”

Not one person said “No,” everyone emphatically said “YES!”

My heart filled with more joy as a read comments that said “His confidence is infectious,”  “I want to have energy like he does,” and “Yes, it was nice to see how his life changed and got motivated. I’m a pessimist so I want to be more optimistic like him!”

You have to ask yourself, are you going to be Afraid anymore? Are you afraid of the Direction you’re heading in? Or are you just afraid of Failing? Embrace it, let it teach you what to do different next time, let it take you somewhere you’ve never been, and let it help you grow.

If you truly failed it’s because you didn’t get back up and try again.

So to everyone in Professor Laskow’s classes, THANK YOU for being who you are and focus on getting better each day, THANK YOU ALL for taking me back to school


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