Multifaceted and Singularly Unique
By Steve Dallape
“Even when we’re in trouble, we seem to get back up.”
“It took me a long time to find who I am, but I think I finally have.”
Senior Micheal Mesnard makes this statement in such a self-assured way that one is led to believe that, unlike a lot of his peers, he does indeed know exactly who he is. But just who is Micheal Mesnard?
He is a student-athlete. “I’m a soccer player,” he offers, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. Micheal is a goalkeeper on the Vandal varsity squad and as of this writing, in 520 minutes in goal, he has made 88 saves, an average of 9.8 saves per game. But, as much as he enjoys soccer, it’s not his favorite sport. That would be swimming, which he doesn’t get to participate in anymore because the season is in the summer, and he has other, bigger plans for his summers now.
He is a National Guardsman. Micheal’s summers are now blocked out for National Guard duty, with no time free for competitive swimming, or much else for that matter. He went through basic training this past summer, and will spend twelve weeks in Advanced Individual Training on mortars this coming summer. “I’ve always wanted to be in the Marines,” he shares. “But, then I thought to myself, ‘I want to have a home life at the same time.’ If I want to have a family or something like that, you can’t really do that if you’re on the other side of the world.” He committed to the Guard for eight years, but has plans to re-up when his commitment is fulfilled. “Career-wise, a lot of people like seeing that on a resume,” he says.
He is mechanically inclined. He is considering studying Automotive Technology at either Ranken Tech in St. Louis and Lincoln Tech in Indianapolis, and sees a future in that field, despite the doom and gloom that electric vehicle critics are spreading. In fact, rather than seeing EVs as a concern, he views their ascendence as an opportunity. “It still has to have an engine, it just doesn’t run on fuel,” he says, pragmatically.
He is a person of faith. Even before he moved to Vandalia at age six, Micheal was attending church here at Bethel Baptist, and Bethel is still his church home to this day. Though his genetic family is small, Bethel Baptist’s congregants are among those that make up his extended family. “Those people make it worth staying around,” he says. “My church family, other people I consider family… I’ve got a lot of friends.” Micheal admires one Bethel Baptist member in particular, a youth pastor named Dustin Jackson, for the way he takes responsibility while still trusting in God. “He always faces problems head-on, but he still uses God in those problems, which is a unique thing in my opinion.”
He is open to new ideas. Micheal’s experience thus far in the National Guard has played a big part in forming the person he is today, and it began during basic training at Fort Moore in Georgia. “You’re very isolated there,” he explains, “but you’re isolated with people from all walks of life. Getting that mix really helped me figure out that the world’s not a small place.” He goes on to explain, “My perspective on us as a species changed. Because before, I believed that we are all inherently evil in some way, but I’ve realized that it’s also a choice.” He relates that some of the other recruits were being purposely unfriendly or disruptive, but he observed that some began to realize that they weren’t really that type of person, and changed their behavior. “That changed my perspective on the people I was around, which changed my perspective in general,” he concludes.
He is a loyal friend. “Annoyingly loyal” is what he thinks his friends would say. ”It’s a very strange thing to get told,” he deadpans. He adds that he is always there for those who need him, but acknowledges that needing him around and wanting him around are sometimes mutually exclusive. But with Micheal, one has to take the good with the bad — he is exactly who he says he is, and he does not misrepresent himself.
He is proud to be a Vandal. Vandalia’s resilience and community spirit are what makes it special to him. “Even when we’re in trouble, we seem to get back up,” he explains. But he is also realistic enough to know that he may be led to make his home elsewhere in the future. But wherever he lands, he will carry the lessons that he learned and experiences he has had here with him. “I believe that home is wherever you are,” he states. And wherever Micheal is, there’s a little bit of Vandalia.