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CAMPUS LIFE
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Student body vice president has lifetime affection for FAU
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By SERGIO N. CANDIDO
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On a Thursday afternoon last spring, Evan Konecky and his mother toured the Boca Raton campus of Florida Atlantic University for a second time.

The last time was about four years ago, when they attended orientation for new students.

As they started their way down the Breezeway, a muscular guy shouted: "What's up, Evan?" It was former FAU star quarterback Rusty Smith, a current NFL player.

The succession of people greeting Konecky continued for another 45 minutes as he and his mother walked the campus. At the end, Konecky's mother asked him, puzzled: "Evan — are you popular?"

"I guess you can say that," he answered, smiling at the memory as he recounted the story.

Konecky is currently the student body vice president at FAU, where he seems to have found his niche despite struggling with a learning disability during his childhood and adolescence.

Konecky was born in Syracuse, N.Y., where his father owned a gas station and his mother did secretarial work and was a substitute teacher. In 1999, his parents decided to move the family to South Florida.

"They were sick and tired of the cold," said the 21-year-old, dark-haired junior.

The Koneckys had fallen in love with the Florida Riviera on frequent visits to the peninsula. Konecky's father got a job as a salesman for a printing company and the family settled in Coral Springs, which is where their son's passion for FAU started to gestate.

Inside his student government office, Konecky points to a six-pack of Coca-Cola in mini-glass bottles, in mint condition.

"I got that at the first-ever FAU football home game, in 2001," Konecky said.

Konecky said his father's company was doing a printing job for FAU at a discount rate, saving the school around $40,000. As a gesture of gratitude, the school gave the company season tickets for the first three years for every home game.

"Every Saturday that there was a home game, my dad and I, and my dad's boss and his son, and my brother, would go to every game," Konecky said.

But almost a decade would pass before he decided to attend FAU. First, he had to prove to teachers that he was capable of learning at a normal rate.

Konecky was diagnosed with a learning disability when he was in first grade. He wasn't able to process and write down what he saw on the blackboard.

"I was able to read 'The cat crossed the street,' but then I couldn't write it down on my notebook," he said. "I had a hard time learning."

A doctor prescribed Ritalin, a drug used to treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, to help him improve his skills. But when he was in 10th grade, Konecky decided to quit the pills.

"I stopped taking them, and my parents are like, 'Why are you doing this?' " Konecky said. "I said: 'I don't want to be dependent on this prescribed pill to be successful. I want to be successful on my own.' "

Without the help of Ritalin, he graduated in the top 10 percent of his high school class.

At that point, he was ready to apply to some of the top universities in the nation but faced one problem: he didn't know what to do with his life. He sat down with his family and decided it was better to attend a school close to home until he figured out what he wanted to pursue.

FAU and Florida International University are relatively the same distance from Konecky's house, but his choice was obvious.

The next step was selecting a career. It would take him almost three years and seven majors to find his passion: Education. And he ended up finding it almost by accident. A girl he liked had invited him to join her as counselor at a summer camp in West Virginia.

"I was like: 'This cute girl wants to go to the summer camp with me,' so I'm like 'all right, I'm gonna go,' " Konecky said.

The girl ended up dropping the summer camp gig a week before it started for a job at Chili's that paid more. So Konecky went to camp anyway, and it changed his life.

In the summer camp, he taught 9- and 10-year-old kids how to play tennis, baseball and run track, among other things. Kids loved him and so did their parents.

"I was getting cards from their parents and letters to go to their bar mitzvahs," Konecky said. "I came back and I was like, 'I think I want to make my major elementary education.' "

Meanwhile, he was spending much of his time getting involved in the life of the university, becoming part of 11 different organizations and clubs.

He was elected student body vice president last spring semester, and started his term during the summer.

Ayden Maher, the student body president, said what makes Konecky such an interesting person is his personality.

"He's the coolest guy I've ever met," said Maher, who has been friends with Konecky since fifth grade. "He's really laid-back and is always in a good mood."

You can see that from the way the two dress for their SG roles. Maher wears dress pants and a shirt four days a week, while Konecky, who's 6 feet tall, sports a green T-shirt with the FAU logo, shorts, a pair of sandals and a baseball cap perched on the back of his head.

"I'm a student. I don't want to look like I'm over any student just because of this job," he said.

As SG vice president, Konecky said he wants to get more students involved in school events.

"That's the most important part: not who's coming to the events, but who's not coming out to these events, and why not," he said.

After Konecky gets his bachelor's in education, he plans on teaching inner-city elementary school kids. He believes he could serve as a role model for them.

"If you go to Brooklyn or Manhattan, Miami or Atlanta, there's a higher divorce rate, and a higher divorce rate means most kids are going to end up with their moms. And then they don't have that male role model in their life," Konecky said. "And there are not that many male teachers in elementary."

Later on in life, he'd like to "own a bar, teach during the day, and snowboard during the weekends."

That's if he hasn't reached his ultimate goal, one isn't surprising coming from someone who went to every Owl home game years before he was ready for college --becoming the next president of FAU.

 
 

 
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