04/28/2014 06:32 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

My Visit With the Students From the University of Southern Indiana

With Dr. Bower and her students from the USI Sport Management Club

Earlier this month I received an invitation from Dr. Glenna Bower, the Chair and Associate Professor of the Department of Kinesiology and Sport at the University of Southern Indiana. I was really looking forward to this event because I would be speaking to a group of students from various academic backgrounds that have always been of great interest to me: students majoring in nursing, kinesiology, occupational therapy, exercise science, sport management, and other health related fields. With my story and health background, I knew this was going to be a meaningful opportunity. During my time on campus, I would also be participating in their Spring into Fitness 10K.

As soon as I arrived on campus, I felt like I was a part of their university because the students made me feel very welcome. I was given a tour from the President of the USI Sport Management Club, Randy Butcher, of all the buildings and state-of-the-art fitness centers, and had the chance to interact with the students and hear about their backgrounds and future goals.

Later that evening I shared my story in the auditorium, and the message I focused on dealt with the subject of motivation and goal setting. I stressed that we all have our own experiences in life that have made us who we are. I explained to the audience that you don't have to be in a coma or in intensive care for two months to understand life any better than someone else. Every day we face our own moments of adversity, both large and small, and we are tested, and we do the best we can with what we have.

But just like anything else, there will always be obstacles out there, and it's how we go about facing these obstacles that will make the difference. And having character traits that include honesty, determination, fairness and responsibility will help make a positive outcome.

From personal experience, I truly believe that it is through our observation of those around us that present us with these traits of character. Through our parents, family, role models, coaches, teachers, and friends. They set the example and prepare us for the present and the future, and these character traits are reflected and defined through the experiences that we each face on a daily basis, therefore they define who we are.

When a challenge is presented to us, we do our best to overcome whatever the situation is, and as a result, we learn something about ourselves through the process that makes us stronger. We acknowledge that our mistakes can be learning lessons, a tragedy can be transformed into a triumph, and an obstacle can be the gateway for opportunity.

I was invited to the University of Southern Indiana to share my story with their students with the goal of inspiring them further in their academic careers, and this opportunity greatly inspired me as well.