What Are They Doing Now?

This page is dedicated to the stories of our alumni.  Many people ask, “What can you do with a COMM degree?”  Because, “What can’t you do with a COMM degree,” is not a satisfying answer, we developed this page to showcase what our alumni are doing now.

This week, we feature Michael Dijak

Michael Dijak (2018)

Originally from Nebraska, Michael is a proud 2012 graduate of Truman State University and a successful entrepreneur in the Kansas City area.  He is currently the Managing Partner of SGC Enterprise Holdings.  His professional background is in business management, relationship selling, operations, and strategic acquisitions.  He’s proud to be an Eagle Scout, board member of Truman’s Kansas City Alumni Chapter, and an active volunteer with several local philanthropic organizations focused on serving the homeless.  In his free time, Michael enjoys competitive shooting, traveling, and hanging out with his 9-year-old rescued English Bulldog, Murphy Lee.

What year did you graduate and what was your concentration?

I graduated in 2012 with a major in Political Science and a minor in Communication.

Michael at a Student Senate meeting (2011).

What extra-/co-curricular activities did you do?

I was a member of the Pershing Society, Truman Media Network/News 36 (now TMN-TV), Student Senate, Student Ambassadors, and the Political Science Students Association.

Did you go to grad school? If so, where?  Was it immediately after you left Truman or did you wait?  Why?

No.  I chose to get involved in several business opportunities immediately after I left Truman.

What was your first job after graduation?

After selling my interest in Trumascape, a Kirksville landscaping & development company that I helped operate & grow during college, I moved back to Omaha and opened a Farm Bureau Financial Services franchise.

Michael (left) and his partners at Trumascape’s first office (2011).

What work do you do/What are you doing now?

I’ve continued on an entrepreneurial path, acquiring and selling service-based businesses in small communities. Currently, I’m Managing Partner for SGC Enterprise Holdings, which owns Stonegate Crematorium and Complete Cremation & Funeral Service (just outside the KC Metro).

How has your Liberal Arts/COMM education helped you?

People are often surprised that I do not have a business degree. I tell them that because Truman’s focus is on developing broad critical thinking, writing, and communication skills regardless of major. I was more than prepared to continue in business & entrepreneurship upon graduation.

Which class did you dislike at the time you took it, but now you’re grateful you took it?

JINS 332: Death & Dying. Overall, I was not thrilled vis-à-vis the JINS part of my degree, but this class turned out to be particularly relevant to our current businesses.

What was your greatest accomplishment at Truman?

My involvement in Trumascape, including being instrumental in growing its annual revenue from $250k to over $2M before I left Kirksville in 2013.

Michael (in the Royals gear) and Truman friends at the K (2018).

Why is Truman a good place for a student to study?

Truman is a world-class education at an incredible value.  The Liberal Arts model and the faculty cultivate an environment that helps students develop critical thinking, writing, and communication skills applicable to any professional environment.

What would you say a COMM student should absolutely do while at Truman?

Get involved with the Truman Media Network somehow! I’ve had the chance to visit the media programs at other universities, and TMN is world-class.  There’s something for everyone to get real media experience.

What advice would you give someone who wants to go into the same line of work as you?

Entrepreneurship is an incredibly challenging and risky kind of work to do, but it is incredibly rewarding!  My advice would be to START NOW.  Take that idea, product, service, whatever it might be, and make it into a business NOW, even while you’re in school.  Ultimately, experience (and money) are two things that are incredibly valuable being an entrepreneur, and you can get both by starting your own small business while at Truman.

Michael in his first office when he sold CUTCO (2010).

What do you miss most about campus/Kirksville?

I often refer to my college years as a “suspended reality” when I was technically an adult, but still being somewhat supported by my parents and without most of the responsibilities of a “grown up.”  This was a hugely valuable time for me in discovering what drives me, the kind of person I want to be, and most importantly what’s possible for my life.  All of that happened at Truman.

If you could come back to Truman and teach a class for a semester, what would be its title and what would it be about?

The Millennial Entrepreneur:  In today’s business environment, the playing field is more level than it has ever been for those that aren’t afraid of hard work and have unique and marketable skills.  I think more people our age would become entrepreneurs if they had the necessary tools and early exposure to entrepreneurship.

What did we not ask that you think is important for people to know?

I fully believe that everyone on this planet is destined for great things if he or she makes the decision to be great.  So many of us have succumbed to learned helplessness, thinking that we are subject to the decisions/thoughts/feelings of others around us and that we can’t control our reality.  That’s just not true!  We are all in control of our destiny, and there’s no reason every single one of us can’t go on to do great things in our careers and communities.  But it all starts with a conscious decision: to be great.

LEFT:  Michael and business partner/friend, Alex (2018); RIGHT:  Michael’s bulldog Murphy Lee (2018).

As a member of the Kansas City Alumni Chapter, you should know that we have a wide range of events over the course of the year.  For anyone from KC (or locating here after graduation) we’d love to see you at an event!

If you would like to learn more of Michael’s story, you can follow him on LinkedIn.

 

If you want to learn more about the Department of Communication, contact us!

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Read about more COMM alumni here!