Chessick shares path to success with speech

By Matt Carlson

As a way to give back to his alma mater, Kenneth Chessick talked to students and faculty about his life and the things he did that helped him be successful Thursday evening at the Barsema Hall auditorium.

His lecture, How an Ordinary Guy Can Do Extraordinary Things, was sponsored by the Mortar Board Senior Honor Society. He is the first of three speakers this school year as part of the last lecture series.

The last lecture series is based on a speech given by Randy Pausch at Carnegie Mellon University in 2007. A month after being diagnosed with cancer and learning he had only three to six months to live, Pausch delivered a lecture called Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.

Chessick received his medical degree from the University of Illinois College of Medicine, and at the age of 36 decided to go to law school. He graduated from the NIU College of Law with a juris doctor degree. He also founded the Chessick Medical Clinic, the Law Offices of Kenneth Chessick and

“I want to help kids, I want to help students, I want to share the lessons of my life with others,” Chessick said. “I’m an ordinary guy that’s done extraordinary things. I know that it doesn’t look ordinary today, but 40 years ago I was very ordinary.”

Chessick’s lecture was based around his three P’s: passion, pride and perseverance. He used the metaphor trying on a new pair of shoes when he talked about figuring out what exactly he wanted to do with his life.

“It’s all about [a] pair of shoes: Try on a pair of shoes, never hesitate to try new things, embrace all change,” Chessick said.

One of the students in attendance was Ryan Nickel, sophomore business administration major, who described Chessick’s lecture as “phenomenal.”

“I was hoping to get more knowledge. I’ve tried to develop myself as much as I can from people like him, and I think he did a really good job,” Nickel said. “I liked the fact that he had his three steps to success: perseverance, pride and passion. That was amazing to be able to take away, but also to take notes on that was phenomenal.”

Chessick donated $3 million toward the Kenneth and Ellen Chessick Practice Center that opened Saturday. The donation is the biggest to Athletics and the second-largest to NIU as a whole.

“It’s the culture here. A large number of the students are economically deprived, as I was, who need to be reassured that this education is a valuable commodity and have it within yourself to be successful,” Chessick said.

Some of the things Chessick said helped make him so successful are demanding perfection, giving it his all and refusing to lose.

“I thought he was really inspirational. He gave some good points; I learned more from him,” said freshman accounting major Brandon Utes.

While Chessick might be done “trying on new shoes,” at least in regard to changing careers, he hopes students follow his words of advice.

“I hope they try new things and follow their passion,” Chessick said.