By Jade Francis
Adjunct professor and tutor in the business department at Cape Cod Community College (4Cs), Richard Mikolajcak, affectionately known as Mick, has earned a reputation of being a hard-working staff member. He has been teaching at 4Cs for almost three years now. Mick has worked as a tutor, supervised by Lisa O’Halloran, since 2016.
“Mick is a responsible, hard-working, knowledgeable employee here at the college who has helped countless students in some of our most difficult courses,” said O’Halloran. “His biggest talent is his ability to foster independence in his students. He uses questioning techniques to get students to explain what they are doing, encouraging understanding.”
Mick grew up in Webster, Massachusetts before entering the Navy when he was twenty years old. He was unsure of what he wanted to pursue in his life so he decided to serve his country. After doing finance with the Navy, he attended Nichols College located in Dudley, Massachusetts to get his Master’s degree and continued on to work various government jobs.
“Back in the cold war we were involved with making sure we knew where the Soviet submarines were and part of my job was to fund it and to manage the logistics for all of it,” said Mick. He was very involved with financial aspects of his job, like purchasing and contracts. He also worked with the Fleet Forces Command in Norfolk, Virginia in 2007. His primary job was audit accounting and working on how to improve the process.
Travelling has always been quite a passion for Mick. As a single father, he has explored many beautiful places with is daughter. They visited Singapore, Guam, Japan, Seattle, San Diego, and Hawaii.
While in Japan, Mick suffered his first heart attack. His daughter was only about eight months at the time. After this instance, he improved his lifestyle and became an overall healthier person. Because of his first heart attack, he could feel when his second heart attack, in 2013, was coming.
“Being a single parent, I was working, I was teaching, I was doing a lot of things,” Mick said. At the time of his second heart attack, he had gained some weight. “I tried to work out,” he said. “but my daughter had just gone to college and I was doing some rock climbing back then, and the next week I could feel something going on, and I knew a heart attack was coming.”
Being a mile and a half away from the hospital, Mick drove himself when he felt he was going to have the heart attack. He does not advise anyone to drive themselves in an emergency like that.
Once at the hospital, “they said ‘everything’s going to be okay, we’re just waiting for the anesthesia’ to put me out. I said, ‘I’m not going to make it’ and I threw up right there and that’s the last thing I ever remembered,” said Mick.
Later that night when he regained consciousness, he couldn’t speak. Doctors realized something was wrong and called for some tests to be done. Mick had also endured a stroke.
First, he had to go through rehabilitation from the heart attack, but all he wanted to do was be able to speak again. He was as patient as he could be while waiting for speech therapy. During this time, Mick was teaching two classes at a community college in Virginia. He received emails from all of his students after his heart attack and stroke. The emotion from his students made him cry, for he wasn’t sure he could ever teach again.
In 2016 he moved back to Massachusetts to live on Cape Cod. Mick started his job teaching financial accounting and payroll at 4Cs in Spring of 2018. He has been appreciated and respected at 4Cs since the beginning of his employment.
Anthony Adelizzi is taking a finance class taught by Mick, along with having experience with him in the tutoring center. “I recommend him to students because he likes helping young people succeed, especially in the business side, and he knows what he’s talking about,” Adelizzi said.
Although Mick didn’t always see himself teaching as a profession, he found a fondness for it and is honored to have had an opportunity to continue on being a professor.