Eric-John Szczepaniak, 20, has been appointed to the Board of Directors for the Michigan Center for Civic Education. On January 8th, 2019, the Board appointed Szczepaniak and newly-elected State Representative Gregory Markkanen (R-Hancock) to three year terms. Established in 1982, MCCE is Michigan’s premier organization solely dedicated to preparing an active and informed citizenry through law-related and civic education. It also doubles as a professional organization that offers development to social studies educators across the state.
Both civic-minded individuals are not new to the political realm. Markkanen previously served as a Hancock City Councilmember and Szczepaniak is beginning his third year on the Kenowa Hills Public Schools Board of Education in Kent County. Szczepaniak also currently serves on the Michigan Association of School Boards’ Government Relations Committee which reviews and takes a position on legislation affecting education in the State of Michigan.
From different generations and peninsulas, the two share a passion for getting students involved in civic education and giving Michiganders a sense of ownership in their communities. Markkanen left his role as a high school social studies teacher at Baraga High School after being elected to the House of Representatives in 2018 while Szczepaniak is currently a student at Grand Valley State University on his way to becoming a high school social studies educator.
While at GVSU, Szczepaniak has been a member of the Student Senate and served as the Vice President for Educational Affairs in 2017-18. He has also been a leading member of the Campus Democratic Engagement Coalition which pulls together multiple departments, student groups, and community members focused on increasing voter education and engagement by the GVSU community. In 2018, GVSU saw the largest number of newly registered voters and the largest number of absentee ballots requested when compared to the other 14 Michigan public universities.
Szczepaniak is excited to serve in this role and continue to volunteer with the MCCE’s premier statewide competitions We The People and Mock Trial. Kalamazoo will be the host of the 2021 National Mock Trial competition, a reflection of the positive impact that MCCE has had over the years.
Eric-John Szczepaniak serves as a trustee for the Kenowa Hills school board and the President of the Michigan Center for Civic Education.