Michael grew up in Hibbing, a small community on northern Minnesota's Iron Range, an area that takes special pride in its tradition of collaborative activism on a number of fronts: educational excellence, environmental protection, civic commitment, workers' rights and social justice. Like many of the changemakers who came before him, Michael is passionate about solving community problems. His particular areas of focus: engaging his peers to end sexual assault and domestic violence.
A first-year business administration major at St. Thomas, Michael first became involved with sexual assault prevention and gender-equity work as a high school student. With more than 400 coaches, student-athletes and members of a nonprofit organization, Advocates for Family Peace, he worked on videos promoting respect. The videos went viral, and he discovered how important it is for young men to be involved in this work. He then learned about "It's On Us," a sexual assault-prevention movement launched by Barack Obama and Joe Biden.
In only one semester as a university student, Michael founded, and recruited fellow students to join, the "It's On Us" Club to strengthen our efforts to prevent sexual assault and support victims. I strongly believe that he will make a tremendous impact.
I became involved with ending sexual assault in high school by creating and organizing lip sync videos with my high school football and hockey teams and teams from around our area. Over 400 student/athletes participated. I worked hard to show that men can step up and help change the culture of sexual assault and domestic violence. This project also helped to empower women. The videos became viral, receiving over 100,000 views. Through this experience, I learned that there aren't many men on the frontlines of this fight. During my work with sexual assault, I was able to meet with other men who are in this fight, including White House advisors and Vice President Joe Biden. In talking with him, he advised me to continue my works at the collegiate level and continue the conversation to end sexual assault. I have had the opportunity to advance this work at the University of St. Thomas, by starting and leading, It's On Us Club. Through this organization, we strive to create an environment in which sexual assault is unacceptable and survivors are supported. Through the It's On Us organization, I have the opportunity to sit on the national student advisory committee as well.