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Dr. Charles Patterson, President of Mansfield University (right) welcomes Zach McCloskey (left) back to campus following brain surgery. Source: Mansfield University

After undergoing three brain surgeries in the past year, Zach McCloskey was officially and warmly welcomed back to campus on Monday morning for the start of the spring semester by Mansfield University President Dr. Charles Patterson.

The first day of school is always a big day, but in the history of higher education there has perhaps never been a student so looking forward to an 8:30 Monday morning calculus class as Zach. Mansfield University shares the excitement in having him back.

The son of MU alums Steve and Pamela McCloskey, Zach withdrew from classes during his sophomore year last January in order to undergo a surgical procedure with the hope of finally locating the source of epilepsy that he was first diagnosed as a nine-year old in 2008.

The procedures proved successful and presented an option that could lead to the possibility of putting an end to the daily seizures he suffered since his elementary school days. In order to have the hope of a normal life, Zach elected to have a fist-size portion of his brain removed despite just a 50/50 chance of success.

The operation was performed by Dr. Ben Kennedy at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia on August 13 and Zach has been seizure-free for 154 days when he entered his class on Monday.

"Zach is really what Mansfield University and that hard-to-describe Mountie culture represents" said his father Steve. "Because of his condition and the fear of seizures, Zach would never have had the opportunity to attend college if it hadn't been for Mansfield."

"When he couldn't attend classes for weeks at a time because of seizures, his professors and the support staff went out of their way to provide him with the opportunity to still be successful," Steve continued. "Two days after he withdrew to undergo the operations, every employee in student services and financial aid signed a good luck card telling him they couldn't wait for him to come back. That type of caring and compassion just doesn't exist everywhere."

His mother Pam was equally as appreciative of the support for Zach. "The support this community showed to us as a family was really a difference-maker for Zach," explained Pam. "He could not have shown that tremendous courage and strength without the prayers, support and encouragement from so very many. We will always be so very grateful to everyone."

"I'm so excited to be back and I'm so thankful for all the support from everyone", said Zach. "It's great to be a Mountie again."