Wisdom from “The Big Guy”

wisdom-sign[1] (1)By Sabrina Bong — Happy Holidays, everyone! Hope your 2013 has gotten off to a great start.

I was recently reflecting on my journey through graduate school and how I got to this point in my life. Though I can point to several influential people who have helped me get this far – my parents, my teachers, my counselors, my friends – there is one person who really stands out. And even though he is gone, he has still found a way to teach me about giving back and the importance of integrity.

I first met Dick Burke – “The Big Guy” – when I arrived at Marquette for my scholarship interview. I was nervous about meeting him; his bio on the website had mentioned that he was the president of Trek Corp. But the minute we sat down and began the interview, I found that it was incredibly easy to talk to Dick. He cracked a few jokes to start the interview off, which put me at ease. Soon, I was speaking to him as I would a friend. Sadly, Dick died a year later in March of 2008. To this day, I am so incredibly thankful that I was able to meet him and be a part of a program that bears his name.

Though I still call myself a Burke Scholar, it had been a while since I had actively thought about the program. That is, until my mom handed me a Christmas present this year. The label said it was from “Mom, Dad, and ‘The Big Guy.’” At first, I thought my mom was jokingly saying that Santa had had a hand in my present. But when I opened it, I saw that it was a book entitled “One Last Great Thing” by John Burke. As I flipped through the pages, I saw that the book was about Dick Burke and his life and legacy. Eagerly, I began reading.

While I loved all of the anecdotes and lessons that John infused throughout the entire book, none had quite the same impact as the lessons written in the epilogue. He had written about ten lessons that he thought were crucial to remember, some of which include following your dreams and to never stop learning. As I read through these lessons, they made me think about the students I counsel and the advice I give. If I had to boil down all of the advice I have given as a counseling intern, I’m sure I would arrive at ten very similar suggestions. These lessons teach us the importance of integrity and honesty, of being accountable to others, and believing in dreams. It is my personal belief that counselors should help students embrace these ideas and help them strive to be the best individual they can be. I also think that these lessons serve as a great reminder to me as a future counselor and how I live my life.

To me, the best part is that this book is not about dying, even though much of it revolves around Dick’s death. Instead, it is a book about living. It is a book about integrity. It is a book about a person who truly believed in the good of every human being he encountered. If there is a book I think everyone should have a copy of, this is it. In addition, buying the book will help out a great cause; John wrote that any profits he receives will be donated to charity.

If you are interested in reading “One Last Great Thing”, you can find it on Amazon (if you are a Kindle user) or you can order it through Barnes and Noble.

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