After a summer internship behind a desk, Mitchell Henry ’13 had been anxious to return to Babson and get back on the tennis courts as team captain. Then during the first week of practice in his final year as an undergrad, he received a bombshell. “My doctor told me I couldn’t play tennis or do any form of exercise,” says Henry.
He was diagnosed with a condition called Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, which meant he had an extra, abnormal electrical pathway in his heart. The condition can lead to episodes of rapid heart rate and, although uncommon, cardiac arrest. So while his classmates were beginning to imagine life beyond Babson, Henry was contemplating life without physical fitness. Given a choice between shutting down his active lifestyle or surgery, Henry opted for the latter. Yet surgery wouldn’t cure all of his ailments. Henry had decided he wanted to be a Marine but knew he would be denied entrance to any military branch with his condition, even if the surgery proved successful.
The morning of his surgery, Henry received a text from his brother. “It said, ‘I’m praying for you, and God’s healed you,’” says Henry. Given a local anesthetic and awake the entire time, Henry says doctors ran several tests and found nothing abnormal. Henry’s doctor commented on how he’d never seen anything like it. “It was truly something special,” says Henry, “and at that point, in my eyes, it was a miracle.”
Henry will head to Quantico, Va., in January 2014, enlisted in a 10-week program at the Officer Candidates School, where one-third of the candidates typically fail. If he passes, next up will be six months of basic training.
Henry believes Babson prepared him well for this upcoming endeavor. For starters, he has had leadership experience. “Being a captain last season and molding the freshmen into one unit was pretty cool. For an individual sport like tennis, you’re often left to fend for yourself and make choices for the larger group, and everyone’s relying on you to make the right decisions,” he says. “Also, the academics at Babson are rigorous. Time is spent in the classroom, studying, on group projects, and, for me, playing tennis. Going from one thing to the next will be no different with this training program. Having little downtime and little sleep, time management is a big part of that, and Babson prepared me well.”—Scott Dietz, associate director of athletics