Wednesday, November 25 , 2015, 12:41 am | Fair 54º

Partners in Education Volunteer Spotlight: Mike Just

Guest speaker turns disability into a powerful message of determination and triumph for students

By Devin Urbany, Noozhawk Intern |

[Noozhawk’s note: One in a series on Santa Barbara Partners in Education volunteers. This article is sponsored by the AT&T Foundation, a Partners in Education President’s Council member.]

Through its Volunteer Recruitment & Coordination program, Santa Barbara Partners in Education places more than 1,000 guest speakers into local classrooms every year. One of the program’s more powerful and committed guest speakers is Mike Just.

Mike Just's volunteer work with Santa Barbara Partners in Education goes beyond guest speaking.
Mike Just’s volunteer work with Santa Barbara Partners in Education goes beyond guest speaking. (Garrett Geyer / Noozhawk photo)

In the words of one student who rated Just’s presentation at La Colina Junior High School: “He is a true leader ... more than anyone we’ve (heard speak) so far.”

      |  Partners in Education President’s Council Series |  Complete Series Index  |

A man of many interests, Just’s volunteer work with Partners in Education has varied, going well beyond guest speaking to also include helping with mock job interviews, special events and at school plays.

An actor at one point in his life, Just has a lot of enthusiasm to share with students, making Partners in Education an ideal organization through which he can act out his desire to teach and inspire others.

As soon as you meet Just, you can tell he is a unique person with a passion for helping others. During my interview with him, a woman who knew him walked up to tell him that she was so grateful for him and the things he has done to educate the community.

When Just was 20, he was in a serious auto accident that left his legs paralyzed. Instead of being discouraged by his disabilities, however, his experience sparked something that told him to reach out to others and share what he had learned through his experience.

A former systems change advocate for the Independent Living Resource Center, Just worked to educate people about disabilities and to help increase independence for those living with disabilities.

Just’s impact on people is strong. He inspires people to not give up, leading by example. Finding different ways to make an impact on people is a way of life for him. He is currently studying drug counseling and, more specifically, helping people to quit using tobacco.

He started a program, KicKnic, to prevent children from ever having the desire to try tobacco products. His goal is to travel to area elementary schools with a live presentation and slide show demonstrating the wide variety of detrimental effects cigarette smoking can have.

Just considers himself lucky to have made so many connections with people through his work, and he will no doubt continue to serve the community in different ways. Partners in Education, and our local students and schools, are lucky to have Mike Just as one of its most committed volunteers.

» Click here for more information on Santa Barbara Partners in Education.

» Click here for more information on how to become a President’s Council member or contact Michelle Magnusson, development and membership director, at 805.964.4710 x4417 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

» Click here for a related article from Partners in Education board president Lynda Nahra.

» Connect with Partners in Education on Facebook.

Partners in Education is a program of the Santa Barbara County Education Office and is the beneficiary of the upcoming Santa Barbara Triathlon, Aug. 26-28. Ben Romo, executive director of Partners in Education, will be competing in the triathlon. Click here to make an online donation.

      |  Partners in Education President’s Council Series |  Complete Series Index  |

— Devin Urbany is a Noozhawk intern through the Santa Barbara Partners in Education internship program.

comments powered by Disqus

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.


Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.