What advice would you give to students?

“Try to be an all-around person.”

Meet Mike Manijak, a worker in the Maintenance Division and, though he is too humble to admit it, an all-around person himself. Mike joined Notre Dame as a dining hall worker twenty-six years ago, and since he started here, “it’s like an Industrial Revolution.” He’s done it all—four or five years ago, he came up with the idea for the pulley system that Zahm uses for its “Here Come the Irish” banner every home game day. After two years in the dining halls, he transferred to General Services, where he was trained in everything from laying tiles to plumbing work. Now, he works in Maintenance Zone 5, which ensure that every research building on campus, including Jordan Hall of Science, runs smoothly every day.

In Mike’s daily work, “everything could be a potential emergency.” As he explains it, “Every time you get a call for something, you’ve got millions of dollars’ worth of equipment in these buildings… You never know what you’re getting into.” Mike, along with the three other workers in Zone 5 and their supervisor Bill, were honored with the Team Irish award this year: they were brought out onto the football field during the Miami game in recognition of their excellent work. Mike’s supervisor Bill said, “Customer satisfaction is our biggest goal, and Mike is fantastic at it… when people do appreciate [our work], it’s heartwarming.” Working in Maintenance Zone 5 isn’t easy, but Mike enjoys the challenge. “When these guys do their job right, you never know it”—and they most certainly do.

Over 26 years, Mike has seen a lot at the University, but two moments stand out to him: the week of 9/11 and the death of Fr. Ted Hesburgh. When 9/11 happened, Mike was working in General Services, and he particularly remembers everybody working together to set up a spur-of-the-moment mass on the quad. He remembers Fr. Hesburgh fondly: “he was a very approachable person; he would come up and talk to us all the time” when Mike would go to his office to do work for him.

Mike likes to play golf with his friends in his free time: “It’s relaxing… you get out there, hit the ball, and don’t think about anything else.” He likes to do a lot of work around the house, as well as a lot of volunteer work, such as Christmas in April, where he uses his construction and maintenance skills to help those in need.

Mike has three interrelated pieces of advice for students, all of which he learned from his parents: “Do a little bit of everything so you get the experience of [it].” “Try to get everybody’s perspective on something else.” And… “Try to be an all-around person.”

Follow Unsung Heroes of Notre Dame to learn more about the heroes who keep University of Notre Dame's campus running behind-the-scenes!! 

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