You Miss the Shots You Don’t Take
by Jessica Colombo
Piotr Pasik has a passion for soccer. He plays the sport every day with the Intramural Soccer teams on campus. Piotr is also a graduate student at MSU in the Rehabilitation Counseling Program after putting two undergraduate degrees from the James Madison College under his belt. He is also a multilingual individual, hailing from Poland. Pretty awesome, huh?
But wait; did I mention that he does all of this while pulling a walker?
That’s right; Piotr has a physical disability caused by a neurological disorder, Spastic Cerebral Palsy. The condition affects his muscles and balance, compromising his ability to walk.
Born in Poland, Piotr’s parents exhausted all of the medical resources that the country had to offer their son. They selflessly acted and moved the family to the United States in 1994, opening a new world of opportunities. Piotr’s choice to become a Spartan was an easy one after surveying the campus and realizing how accessible it was, thanks in part to the efforts of RCPD. That was in 2002 and Piotr has called East Lansing and MSU his home ever since.
After graduating from James Madison College with two degrees in International Relations and Social Relations and Policy, Piotr was planning his next steps. He had his heart set on a PhD program in Political Science, but after an enlightening conversation with an advisor, Piotr applied to the Rehabilitation Counseling Masters Program at MSU. After getting accepted to both programs, he had a tough decision to make. Piotr reevaluated his aspirations in life and decided that his career goals better aligned with the Rehabilitation Counseling Program. He made a vow that day to aspire to initiate change and be an advocate for disabled persons in other parts of the world. Parts of the world that don’t even have a translation for “Rehabilitation Counseling,” such as his homeland. As a person with a disability, he possesses the experience that allows him to be empathetic with the challenges that come with disabilities, such as physical, social and psychological. He understands their need for acceptance, inclusion and independence. Piotr strives to take the support and opportunities that he has been given and pay them forward.
Like I mentioned, Piotr plays soccer, and a lot of it. You may be wondering how he does this with a walker in tow. What began as an elective class years ago, has transformed into a passion for the sport. Since then, Piotr has made many connections to teammates and has honed his skills on the field. He even made a trip to Ireland recently to watch a match- by himself. While abroad, he relied on the friendliness and goodwill of strangers to get around.
Piotr breaks the mold. There are some who may meet him and label him as “disabled.” Yet, he embodies a person who is taking charge of his life and is living it with passion and enthusiasm. I would say that he is fully able to accomplish more than the average person and he has already proven it.
Stay tuned for our next post. Piotr is starting a movement. It will be epic.
For more on Piotr: I gave it a go, but I can’t hold a flame to our good friend, Megan Gebhart’s inspiring rendition of Piotr’s story on her 52 Cups of Coffee blog.
Jessica Colombo is senior Spartan Marketer graduating in May from MSU. She is currently seeking a position in a company’s world domination department. In addition to working for MSUAA Career Services where she gets to do fun stuff like write for this blog, she also enjoys rocking out to old school Michael Jackson in her cube and eating coffee flavored Haagen dazs ice cream.