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Germanna Prof. Shockey knows firsthand the difference community colleges make
When Michael Shockey was 13 years old, he weighed 240 pounds.
“I was mocked,” he remembers. “I didn’t want to go to school.”
Because of bullying, he did poorly academically.
His troubles didn’t end there.
By the time he was 16, he was hospitalized for acute, nonspecific pericarditis—a painful and dangerous inflammation of the sac around the heart.
“I had these enormous difficulties, pressures,” the 63-year-old Shockey, an adjunct professor of psychology at Germanna Community College and senior minister at Calvary Southern Methodist Church in Stafford, says now.
His doctor visited his hospital room late in the day and seemed to be more concerned than usual.
When the doctor left the room, the young Shockey thought: “It’s never going to be quite right … My life is over.”
He prayed that night.
“I told the Lord, ‘Please, I’ve been through so much. Either take me home or heal me.’ I didn’t want to suffer anymore.”
Every night at about 9 p.m, the pericarditis would flare up, causing severe pain.
That night, Shockey waited.
Nurses came in throughout the evening asking if the teenager needed something for the pain. He kept saying no.
Nine p.m. arrived.
There was no pain.
“I kept saying ‘I’m alright,’ ” Shockey recalls. “And I was alright.”
The bullying continued while he was a student at George Washington High School in Alexandria. “I used to beg not to go back to school.” He learned Taekwondo, which he says made him feel better about himself. But he felt he needed to do more than that.
“I decided,” he says, “that I had to take the weight off.”
He lost 100 pounds in one year by going on what he calls a starvation diet. He says the extreme diet, which consisted of a piece of meat and diet soda in the morning and again at night, damaged his liver. He recovered again.
Because of the bullying, he made such poor grades in high school that he was turned down by four-year colleges.
He went to Northern Virginia Community College. “Community college gave me the chance to prove myself,” he says. In a more accepting, nurturing environment, he did just that, turning things around dramatically, becoming an excellent student. He says he learned firsthand the difference the second chance and accepting environment community colleges provide can make. He hopes his story helps students enduring similar trials.
“That’s why I came back [to Germanna and NVCC] to teach,” Shockey says. “I needed to give back. God had blessed me in so many ways.”
He went on from NVCC to George Mason University, where he earned a Bachelor’s degree. He did postgraduate work at Wesley Theological Seminary, where he became excited about psychology.
Shockey’s psychological thriller, Seized, was published in 1998. He’s currently working on a murder/espionage thriller. This after also overcoming a mild case of dyslexia when he was young.
He has taught at Germanna for 18 years. “This is a great school,” Dr. Shockey says. “It has a great administration, great students. I love the faculty. You couldn’t ask for a better place than this.”
“Dr. Shockey is an amazing teacher,” Amy Holman wrote in response to an update on Germanna’s Facebook page. “His passion for teaching makes it so much easier to learn and enjoyable.”
“When the moment comes that my students understand, it’s such a great, great moment,” Shockey says. “Because I care about all my students so much and about this school so much. I feel the same way about my ministry.”
This Sunday at 11 a.m., he preaches his final sermon at Calvary (at 279 Bells Hill Road in Stafford) after nearly 38 years as minister. The Aquia Harbour resident invites his students and former students to attend.
He will continue to teach.
“After all these years, you tend to have mixed feelings” about retiring from the ministry, he says. “I’m going to feel somewhat conflicted Sunday. But I have a great life, teaching and writing books.”