Calling an Audible to Serve

Michael Burke

“A good school away from home” brought Michael Burke, a native of Ames, to Iowa City in 2016. Originally a Tippie College of Business student, Michael quickly called an audible on his academic pursuits to double major in Sport and Recreation Management (SRM) and Journalism and Mass Communications (JMC).

When asked how his life as an athlete before college helped inform his decision to choose SRM as a major, Michael (pictured in black coat) said, “I grew up participating in various sports. I loved being a part of a team. SRM was a unique opportunity to still be a part of a team while learning other aspects of sports and the sporting industry.” There were many course highlights that still influence Michael and his career. “I really enjoyed the various field trips led by UISRM Program Director, Dan Matheson, to give students a unique glimpse into what working in the sports industry looks like, as well as the opportunity to ask questions to the people actually working in the industry.” When not outside the classroom on field trips or completing experiential learning opportunities as guided by Anna Jensen, Director, UISRM Office of Field Experience, Michael noted, “all of the academic work in the UISRM program offered a great foundation for whatever I chose to do next in my life.”

Kids on Course at JeffersonWith his double major in hand, Michael set out into the world to make his mark in May of 2020. As an AmeriCorps member, he is the Academic Support Specialist with an organization called Kids on Course. As Michael explained, “AmeriCorps is a federal program that places volunteers in nonprofits and other organizations that help local communities or respond to disasters.” Kids on Course fosters growth in the Cedar Rapids community via volunteering and service activities. AmeriCorps members, funded by Kids on Course grants, work alongside full-time Kids on Course staff.

Michael was introduced to Kids on Course through the UISRM guided field experience practicum named for the organization’s title, led by Kara Kehe. In his current role, Michael works with a small team to help high school students in their educational journey. “We provide some structure and accountability to these kids and really get them to see the value of education,” says Michael. His team tutors and mentors high school students with the end goal being successful admission into higher education. Many of Michael’s mentees come from lower-income communities and may not have educational support systems in their homes; Michael and his team help serve the community by providing these crucial academic supports.

“We help make learning interesting and fun while also providing support for these kids outside of just academic work. Many of our kids need a positive role model to keep them motivated,” Michael says. “We focus on note-taking skills, time management, communication, technology, and relationships.” When talking with Michael, he clearly loves the work he is doing to help positively change his students' lives.

Michael in face shieldThe pandemic changed Michael’s day-to-day role, but he is optimistic about the impact his group is having, despite the challenges we are all facing. “I currently tutor kids throughout the day virtually. I meet with 3 to 5 students each day for roughly one hour. We also provide afterschool support.” In addition to helping with all types of homework, Michael team-teaches two courses: Future Ready Learning Seminar and Prepare to Graduate. Michael enjoys the various aspects of his career, saying “every day is unique, which makes the position interesting and very rewarding, especially when kids start to see their hard work pay off by seeing their good grades. I have loved growing relationships with these kids and love seeing their different personalities.”

As he applies to graduate school at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Michael knows he is well prepared for his next steps in life. “The UISRM program helped me prepare for service by highlighting the importance of cooperation. Thinking together to solve large problems can lead to great outcomes. I know that a willingness to learn from professors, your peers, and past alumni really gives you the best educational experience possible. The UISRM staff and faculty want you to succeed in whatever you want to do and they are willing to give the time and extra effort to help you achieve your goals.”

UISRM is proud of Michael’s service to the community, and the brilliant professional he has become. We are so proud to have Michael as a member of our UISRM family and we are honored to call him “ours”!

Kids on Course featured Michael through their social media on March 11, 2021. Learn more about Michael and his contributions through the Kids on Course Facebook page and Kids on Course Instagram account posts.


 

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