This week’s Campus Celebrity may be a freshman, but St. Ambrose has been a part of his entire life. Michael Byrne is the son of Dr. John Byrne, who collegiettes may recognize as a business professor here. His dad has worked at SAU since Michael was born. However, his “celebrity” worthy status goes far beyond connections.
When he was three years old, Michael was diagnosed with severe Asperger’s Syndrome, a condition that falls onto the autism spectrum. Because of this Michael had a difficult time mastering his social and communication skills.
Despite these challenges, Michael also found that he has many strengths, one of which being his imagination. “I turned to drawing, and have made it my primary craft since I was three through designing birthday and graduation cards, posters, and even T-shirts for local events.”
Around the age of 13, Michael was able to overcome his diagnosis with the help of therapists, those close to him, and God. He attended Bettendorf High School, where he ran cross country for four years and was also involved in musicals, show choir and Best Buddies.
Following his high school graduation this past May, Michael knew that Ambrose was the right fit for him. “I grew to know the place through many FCA summer father-son basketball camps and occasional visits to the Cosgrove cafeteria. I grew to see the campus as a wonderful place to further my professional and spiritual education.”
Michael is very excited to be here. In the short weeks Ambrose has been in session, he has enjoyed the friendly atmosphere and the various activities that are always happening on campus. He is a part of the cross country team here, but he was “surprised by the amount of mileage a college runner covers in a single week. (Phew!).”
As far as the upcoming four years, Michael plans to be involved in the fine arts program and get involved in as many clubs as he can. Although he has had many challenges, Michael loves where he is now and is very open and willing to share. “I can cross my eyes, flip my eyelids, and even sit in meditation mode. My favorite color is red, my favorite cartoon character is Daffy Duck, and one of my favorite movies includes ‘Twelve Angry Men’ starring Henry Fonda.”
Following his time at Ambrose, Michael hopes to work in film animation and acting. His biggest goal is to some day earn a Tony or Academy Award.