“Living by integrity”: Getting to know Mikekal McClarin, student body Vice President

Mikekal McClarin is a senior at DePaul College Prep and the student body Vice President for the 2021-2022 school year. He is also a wrestler as well as a member of the varsity football team. Many people know of McClarin because of his friendly presence in the hallways and his catchy, sing-song tagline on the morning announcements (“Miiiiiiikekaaaaal”). But what makes Mikekal an effective leader goes far deeper than his positive personality.

McClarin is known for being a student body leader, but he is also a serious wrestler. He explained that wrestling plays a major role in his life because it teaches him a sense of responsibility. For example, when it’s wrestling season he needs to watch his diet and stay in shape, he said. McClarin explained, “It added responsibility to my life, made me more efficient in the things that I do because I am always busy running around.” According to him, these same disciplinary practices have transferred to his schoolwork and have made him more productive and efficient.

Coach Pat Heffernan, DePaul Prep’s head wrestling coach, explained McClarin’s important leadership role on the team. “He takes charge of before practice and after practice kind of getting our guys ready to go, hyping them up and then making sure everyone is working hard and doing the best that they can,” Heffernan explained. Coach Heffernan expressed that McClarin shows the DePaul Prep values as a wrestler by listening to his coaches and fellow teammates and by helping his teammates. Coach Heffernan also described how McClarin grew as a wrestler. “He has become a lot smarter as far as match strategy and understanding the sport,” Heffernan said. According to the coach, McClarin also teaches his coaches and teammates, just as they teach him, by putting sequences into much simpler terms and reminding his coaches of things throughout practice. Coach Heffernan ended the interview acknowledging that for him, the sky’s the limit for McClarin because of his talent.

By voting him Vice President of the student body, McClarin’s classmates appear to agree with Coach Heffernan’s assessment of the senior’s leadership qualities. McClarin explained that he had what it took to be a student leader because he manages his time well and because he knows how to listen to others. He also acknowledged that he doesn’t change his personality to fit into anyone’s box and he stays true to himself. Finally, McClarin explained that becoming Vice President changed him for the better. It has made him more responsible and efficient when it comes to not only schoolwork, but duties in his life at home, he said.

Reflecting on his few years at DePaul Prep, experiencing a campus move and many challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic, McClarin expressed the importance of sticking to his own personal morals: “living by integrity, compassion, exploration, critical thinking, and active citizenship.”

To DePaul Prep’s ninth grade students, McClarin imparted advice: “Incoming freshmen, basically look at high school as a new start. Come in, be yourself, and always look to strive for the best. Be a student before anything else, always keep your grades up. If your grades are up everything else will come easy.”