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Works in Progress

photos by Jim Amidon

A series of conversations with a career counselor shortly thereafter helped relieve pressure Kevin had put on himself. “He asked me why I wanted to be a doctor, and I didn’t have a good answer. He told me, ‘Look, take a year off and do something you enjoy, and then get on with your career.’” So within six months, McCarthy had permission to fail, to relax, to accept praise, not push himself into a career choice, and to enjoy himself. A weight was lifted. He discovered a new and deeper motivation. “Now I do things because I love doing them. I love racing now. I know I can compete with anyone. I’m able to enjoy everything about it—the competition, the pressure, the publicity that follows.” runs really fast. And with purpose. In Spring 2011 he helped lead Wabash to its first North Coast Athletic Conference Track and Field title and qualified for the Outdoor Track National Championships in three events. That tricky steeplechase? He ran to fifth place to earn his third All-American award (the same place Coach Busch took in 1996). While at nationals, he was named the Great Lakes Region Track Athlete of the Year. A summer internship studying alongside Biology Professor Eric Wetzel had

NOW KEVIN McCARTHY

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| WA BA S H M AGA Z I N E

McCarthy wading through local creeks collecting crayfish and infecting them in the lab. Later in the summer, he traveled with Wetzel’s Infectious Diseases course to Peru. What he saw there shook and changed him: People were living in shacks on the sides of mountains where human and animal waste formed streams that flowed through the area. He saw smog, trash, and disease. He couldn’t drink the water or pet the animals. “Going in, I was so enthusiastic. These are problems we’ll be able to fix, I thought. Then you get there and you see the magnitude of it and you say, ‘Gosh, there’s no way.’ I saw true poverty there—people who had absolutely nothing; people incapable of understanding the very diseases they have that we were there to study.” But there was a bright spot. At one point, McCarthy found himself in a rural area completely surrounded by a group of women. He used his fluency in Spanish (he’s a Spanish/chemistry double minor) to teach the women about the diseases their children had. “When you’re in a situation like that, you just don’t know if you’re helpful or if you’re just some American college kid in the way. The trip introduced us to the real world—the real world. And in this case, I was able to do something. I was able to communicate with them and say, ‘Look,

we care about your health and we’d like to help you do something about it.’ I felt respected, and they felt honored by it.” McCARTHY’S SENIOR YEAR HAS been a storybook ending for a young man who started running as a high-school senior only when it became clear he would not make the varsity soccer squad (and his younger brother would). He led Wabash to its first NCAC Cross Country championship by finishing second, then he won the Great Lakes Regional title. At nationals, McCarthy carried the team to 16th place by running the fastest time ever over five miles by a Little Giant. He finished sixth in the nation with a time of 24:15. (The sixthplace finish matched Busch’s finish in 1995). A second straight Great Lakes Indoor Track Athlete of the Year honor followed this past winter in what was, perhaps, the best two weeks of McCarthy’s life. He helped Wabash repeat as NCAC Indoor champs by winning the mile and anchoring the distance medley relay. And during the same week he won the mile run at the national championships, he found out he had been selected to receive the NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship. “When I was a freshman, Coach Busch told me that he thought I could become

Wabash Magazine  

The Journal of Wabash College

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