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Valedictorians goal : Better prostheses for veterans
Daniel Maykel

The Bulletin
LATHROP - Wounded soldiers, especially those who have lost arms and legs while serving their country, are always in Daniel Maykel’s mind.
That’s a big part of the reason the Lathrop High School Class of 2013 valedictorian is headed to the University of Nevada in Reno to study mechanical engineering. He would like to, one day, design better prosthetic arms and legs for these wounded warriors – appendages that are “as close as possible to a real hand so they‘ll have an easier time when they come home” and pick up the pieces of their lives, said Maykel.
Although several members of his family on both sides have served in various capacities in the armed forces, none of them have been has severely injured while in the service. His dad was in the Army. His grandfather served in the Navy. Ditto his mom’s uncle. Some of them may have been in Vietnam, but he is not absolutely sure, he said.
One thing this Spartan knows for sure is to use his future knowledge and training in mechanical engineering to help make life easier for soldiers who have suffered leg and/or arm amputations while fighting for freedom.
“That’s one thing I really want to accomplish with it,” he said about his desire to be a mechanical engineer, an interest that began since he was a little boy having fun playing with Legos and building all kinds of movable things.
Hopefully, he can also use his knowledge and expertise in the mechanical engineering field to design cars and planes as well, added Maykel who chose the campus in Reno, Nevada, because of its “great engineering program.”
Other campuses where he applied and was accepted included the University of the Pacific in Stockton, University of California campuses in San Diego and Merced, California State University in Sacramento, the University of Idaho, and the Colorado School of Mines.
Maykel’s four years in high school included sports and choir. He was a junior varsity baseball player during his freshman year. A singer who sings bass, he was a choir member throughout his four  years in high school during which time he was also a member of Sing With Heart, a specialized small group of choir singers. During his sophomore year, he was selected to be a member of the Manteca Unified Honor Choir, and during his junior year, landed a spot in the San Joaquin County Honor Choir.
Off campus, Maykel is active in Boy Scouts. He has been a member since he was 13 years old. Last November, he received his Eagle Scout badge, scouting’s highest honor. For his Eagle Scout project, he painted a map of the United States on the black top – an asphalt area outside of the classrooms – for the students at Banta Elementary School where the wife of his scoutmaster Bill Lawrence, Teresa, works as a teacher.
The map “makes it easier for (the students) to learn geography,” Maykel said, explaining the idea behind this project. To facilitate that learning-by-playing project, he also had pamphlets made containing various ideas for games that relate to the names and capitals of the states.
Scouting has also allowed him to be involved in a lot of community projects. Besides helping his friends in their Eagle Scout projects that included refurbishing Lathrop Elementary’s basketball court and building compost bins for Lathrop High, Maykel has also helped the Boy Scouts in various canned-food drives during the holidays.
Maykel is the youngest of the four children of John and Cathleen Maykel. He is a retired captain at Deuel Vocational Institute in Tracy, and she is a stay-at-home mom.
Contact Rose Albano Risso at or at (209) 249-3536.