Wednesday, November 30th, 2016 @ 2:56PM
Dan Schnur first saw something special in Junior State of America (JSA) when Alex Evans, former JSA Board President, bought him to one of SoCal JSA State’s conventions. “I saw the students’ enthusiasm and their desire to learn how to debate civically,” said Dan. It was that infectious enthusiasm that convinced Dan to serve on the JSA Board of Trustees and become a mentor to JSA’s young leaders. In this interview, we learn what JSA means to the adults in our students’ lives.
Who are the most memorable students you’ve met while volunteering for JSA?
There are many amazing students that I have met throughout the years. The ones that stand out in my mind most are not necessarily the cabinet members or the best speakers, but the students who bravely debate topics that hit close to home. At one Fall State, I saw a young man and woman debate on immigration. The young man debated passionately against immigration rights not knowing the pro-immigration student has immigrate parents. He and the other students offered their support to the young woman when they saw how shaken she was. She took time to compose herself and came back with a stronger argument. The peer group strength is one of the best things about JSA. Students get so much encouragement from their peers.
How does it feel when you know you’ve changed a student’s life?
As the Director of USC’s Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics, I mentor and work with college students daily. I always want to change a student’s life for the better. The best part of being involved with JSA is mentoring high school students. Educated and responsible young citizens is what this country needs now more than ever.
I see firsthand how JSA helps students focus on the power they have in political action. I have my college students mentor JSA students. Many of our students attend conferences and take advantage of the mentorship opportunities made available at USC. Then they circle back to me and say, “You know, when I was at your leadership conference at USC, I learned to debate and make a difference.”
The impact we have on a student’s life is what motivates me to be involved with JSA.
What’s it like being a key JSA stakeholder as a Board of Trustees member, donor, and mentor? What is your perspective as a non-alumni JSA leader?
Seeing the students have an amazingly wonderful experience makes me invest in JSA. The more I got involved, the more I wanted to volunteer my time and money to mentor these students, especially developing their leadership skills. I host leadership conferences on campus with JSA and USC students throughout the year. I believe in the value of JSA’s unique student-led, student-run programs.