VOLUME 24 #3

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>Michael Bennett
Michael Bennett's selfie in the Swiss Alps.

Alumnus and adventurer isn't afraid to get a little muddy

ALUMNI & FRIENDS | “I think he’s dead” was the first thing Michael Bennett, BE00, heard after being propelled through the air by an oncoming car.

The runner was covered in bruises and scratches, a rock stuck in his shoulder. The concussion had caused a partial blackout, leaving his eyes open but unable to see. He lay on the Costa Rican ground, unmoving, as people gathered around him and presumed the worst.

It was not the study abroad experience Bennett had envisioned for himself just weeks before. The then-undeclared UD junior was struggling to decide what to do with his education. But he soon recovered, and now, 17 years later, he credits that moment on the road with changing his life.

“It just struck me then, like ‘Wow, I almost died, and life is short, man—what do you want to do?’”

For Bennett, that meant seeing the world. He has since climbed mountains in the Pacific Northwest, scaled volcanoes in Guatemala, hiked the Great Wall of China and mountain-biked through the Swiss Alps.

“Each time I traveled, I grew in incredible ways,” the marketing graduate says. “I learned to appreciate and enjoy cultural differences rather than criticize and mock them. My social and political views became more expansive and educated. And my views of who I am and what I want to do with my life continued to evolve and gain clarity.”

Today, Bennett is a world traveler, life coach and founder of Muddy Shoe Adventures, an adventure-expedition agency that has taken scores of people across the country and world in search of deeper meaning and purpose. On these trips—which range from $97 getaways in Southern California to $6,000-plus adventures in Namibia—Bennett combines physical adventures, cultural experiences and life coaching.

“Our goal is for participants to adopt new, more empowering stories about who they are, what they are capable of and where they want to go in their life,” he says. “You can travel to a brand new place, meet new people and really challenge and immerse yourself in the experience.”

That’s a lesson he learned firsthand.

“Traveling to Costa Rica and seeing the world was the launch for my current path,” he adds. “It has been a winding road, but none of this would have happened if it weren’t for study abroad at UD.”