Alumnus discusses obstacles, triumphs

By John Wunker/reporter

Motivational speaker Chet McDoniel brought life lessons and social commentary to NE Campus Oct. 16.

A former student of TCC, McDoniel presented the many challenges he has faced throughout his life and shared how others can overcome their own obstacles. To him, being born without arms and shortened legs has played a crucial part in how he views daily life. 

In his book, I’m Not Broken: You Don’t Need Arms to be Happy, McDoniel explains how attitude, blame and self-awareness all play a role in personal happiness. 

“We sit back and worry about who’s to blame or why such and such happened to the point where we’re not engaged with trying to make the situation better,” McDoniel said. “Only you can ruin your own day.”

TCC Connect student Dominique Castaneda was inspired by McDoniel’s story and said he too aspires to become an inspirational speaker.

“You can always take something away from anything,” Castaneda said. “It’s a constant process.” 

While McDoniel said his handicap continues to be a significant part of his life, it does not define him.

“I am capable of so much more than a label that says I’m not,” he said. “I have had what I consider to be a full, happy life. It may not always look normal, but it’s the life I choose to live.”

When speaking on society’s tendency to judge individuals prematurely, McDoniel emphasized the importance of how labels can be detrimental to an individual’s self-worth.

“Every time we throw out a label at someone, it demeans them no matter what,” he said. 

Nevertheless, his stance on these challenges played back to the mantra that to simply stand by would achieve nothing.

“Even if you know who’s to blame for a situation, you can still make it better,” he said.