Some people aren't afraid to get their hands dirty. Mitch Thomas, the new executive director at West Coast University-Ontario, takes it one step further.
"I like to roll around in mud. Now that needs a little bit of context. I'm a competitive person and so from time to time I engage in Spartan races," Thomas said. "I really like the physical and mental challenges. I like to get myself outside of my comfort zone, so that's why I like to roll around in mud, because Spartan requires you to do that."
Thomas has never been afraid of hard work. In college, he worked in a lumberyard, where he was first tasked with painting roofs but eventually worked his way to helping customers in the yard to ultimately earning his commercial driver's license and delivering the lumber.
"What I liked about it was it was one of those jobs where you did whatever you needed to do and I just loved that. It was something different every single day," he said.
What drew Thomas to West Coast University, he said, was the knowledge that he and the nursing program staff will be role models for future nurses, who will go out and work with hundreds of thousands of patients over their careers.
"That, to me, is something that when you come to work every day you know it's really not work," he said. "You're going to make a difference in somebody's life — whether it's in the school or after they graduate and they get out into the field. You're starting to make a difference very early on. That's exciting to me, very exciting."
His advice to students pursuing their nursing degree sounds like something a person who rolls around in the mud for fun and competition would say.
"Keep going. Don't give up. Perseverance is really critical in life, in general, but especially when it comes to your education," Thomas said. "After you're done with your education and graduate, you're going to need that perseverance in the workplace too, so really take what you're learning now, put your head down, stay focused, keep your eye on the prize and it will help you when you get out in the real world too."