Depth of perception

January 1, 2014

Alumnus Daniel Jenab thought JCCC was for losers until he fell in love with the place

If Daniel Jenab is being honest, he wasn’t that excited about going to Johnson County Community College – at first.

“My preconceptions were not very positive,” he said. “I thought, ‘This is for people who have no direction in life.’”

His grades at Blue Valley Northwest High School were good, but not exemplary, so no big scholarships rolled in.

He had no idea what he wanted to do in life, so JCCC seemed to him a “neutral middle ground” where he could find his footing.

He found a whole lot more.

Attitude shift

“After the first semester here, this place really felt like home,” Jenab said. “Despite the fact that there’s a lot of students, it feels cozy, and the atmosphere is relaxed. With the buildings connected, unlike (other) campuses, it feels like a small school even when it’s not.”

He warns other students not to judge the college by a single class or even a single semester. “I’ll admit, the first semester, it was a lot of the same material from high school. But that could be because I took advanced classes in high school. I wasn’t that interested in working in high school, though,” he said.

Jenab was the type of student who could turn in papers and get good grades without too much effort. That changed in Composition II, taught by Bill Carpenter, Jenab said.

“I’ve never been really challenged in my writing. He was the first teacher who really, really pushed me to think and to become a better writer,” he said. “After that class, I thought, ‘Well, maybe there is something to this school after all.’”

He also enjoyed World Regional Geography, Social Problems, and Introduction to Sociology, he said.

His professor for the Intro class, Brian Zirkle, associate professor of sociology, gave him more than a grade. Jenab’s dog, Finn, a corgie/sheltie mix, came from the instructor.

Preparation for future

Jenab received his associate’s degree from JCCC in 2014 and recently graduated with his bachelor’s degree from the University of Kansas. His post-graduate plans include a master’s fellowship in Washington D.C., where he hopes to make connections in politics.

He said he doesn’t want to be a politician himself, but his degree in communications management would make him a valuable part of a politician’s team or a lobbyist’s staff. His internship with Chris Koster, who is running for governor of Missouri, is giving him experience.

Giving credit to JCCC

As one of the commencement speakers for the communications department at KU, Jenab estimates he spent “a third” of his speech discussing JCCC and how it readied him for KU and beyond.

“I organized it based on my past, present and future, and JCCC was a significant part of that past,” he said. In fact, his past led to his future, as Jenab received a $3,000 transfer scholarship ($750 for four semesters) based on his 3.9 grade point average at JCCC.

So the scholarships did roll in. It just took a few years at JCCC to get them…