Meet Vice President Jason Michnick

“My experience as a study abroad student was life changing, and I wanted to stay involved with the great work that TDS is doing.”

From right: Jason Michnick and Dr. Kurt Thurmaier

 

Board Member since 2016
Trips taken with TDS to Tanzania: 3
Career: Economic Development Planner for the City of DeKalb
Hobbies: Camping, snowboarding, photography, drinking coffee and making up goofy nicknames for my dog, Astro Von Pluto

 

 

 

 

 

I started getting involved with the TDS board as a study abroad student in 2015, and officially became a board member in the fall of 2016. My experience as a study abroad student was life changing, and I wanted to stay involved with the great work that TDS is doing. I stay involved now because I believe that the effort will lead to a positive impact on the quality of life for children and families who were so welcoming to me as a student.

I love sitting around with our local partners and having a beer and talking about cultural differences/similarities and dreaming of a better tomorrow. The most shocking thing from the three trips I look with TDS was seeing children living in abject poverty and being able to do little to help themselves.

I am currently the Economic Development Planner for the City of DeKalb. I love to travel and experience new things. I also love to cook and entertain for friends and family.

My father was a mason for fifty years, and my mom worked as a computer programmer. I grew up spending many weekends and summer weekdays tagging along with my dad to construction sites. I got paid to wash walls and sweep job sites and learned to be handy because of it. My mom is very intellectual and tech savvy, so I was also exposed to technology and puzzles at an early age. They also supported my childhood dreams of being a professional athlete by putting me in just about every sport I wanted to try. They very rarely missed any of the hundreds of games I had, even though I didn’t develop coordination until my teenage years. Most of those games must have been terribly painful to watch.

Making the decision to go back to school and choosing NIU has had the biggest impact on my life. I had the opportunity to live in Nairobi, Kenya, for a semester on my own. I was the first MPA student to go to a partner school in Africa, and I had to figure out what to do on my own along the way. I had to learn to be flexible and patient but assertive.

Goals for 2017

1. Recruit a professional fundraiser.
2. Find new board members that have the same passion as those that have been involved since inception.

Goals for 2018

1. Reach our fundraising goal.
2. Coordinate a successful volunteer/study abroad trip that involves a first-of-its-kind summer science camp.
3. Network more with individuals in the DeKalb area more often. I think the local impact of TDS in DeKalb is limited. There are quite a few individuals in the DeKalb area that volunteer in Tanzania and other African countries.
4. Coordinate a Rotary International grant that will help equip the Library and Community Resource Center with ICT equipment and a strong internet connection. Since 2015, I have been trying to coordinate a Rotary International grant that will help equip the LCRC with ICT equipment and a strong internet connection. It has been frustratingly slow, but I hope to have it worked out in time for the 2018 trip. I think once the ICT equipment is in place, we can successfully transition into more teacher development and introduce a mobile tablet lab for introducing students to technology.

 

“The most shocking thing from the three trips I look with TDS was seeing children living in abject poverty and being able to do little to help themselves. But, with TDS, I can help empower these children and their community.”