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Welcome to the R.E.A.L. Education & Outreach Blog. Let's work on what gets in your way.

What REALLY Matters

Brittney McZeal

I heard someone ask this week, “Don’t people go missing all the time?  Why all of this attention for Mickey?”  If you haven’t heard, Michaela “Mickey” Shunick has been missing since the early hours of May 19, 2012.  After I heard that question, I stopped mid-step and climbed down from my righteous soapbox, and replied calmly, “You know, unfortunately you are correct, there are many missing person cases out there, but what I see prevailing here that I have never seen in my 47 years is a collective commitment, focus, drive, determination, hope, and love for the location of a daughter, sister, friend and teacher.”  I know Mickey.  She is an alumnus of Acadiana High School and I had the pleasure of teaching her in my Biology I and REAL classes between 2006 and 2008.  You don’t forget Mickey Shunick, and you will go to great lengths to find her if she is missing.  She is beautiful and radiates sweetness.  She has a compassionate, empathetic, and defender spirit, always looking out for the underdog.  

Our community of Lafayette, known for its hospitality, world-renowned food, music, and festivals, has been transformed.  We have gone from hock, to hope, to grief, to anxiety, to hope, to sadness to hope many times this week.  Last night at the benefit concert offered by Vagabond Swing and The Givers, I was filled with more hope and love than sadness.  I was surrounded by my former students from AHS last night and witnessing their love and support for Mickey was inspirational.


These are some special young people and they are the reason I stayed at Acadiana High for eleven years, they lift me up, give me hope now and for the future.  The Givers lead singer said it best, last night when he asked all of us to send our love and positive thoughts to Mickey and her family all at once.  The collective, supportive spirit last night is sure to make a difference.  We can make good things happen if we focus on what really matters just like Mickey, love, compassion, and empathy.