Student Spotlight: Mike Zuranski
Mike Zuranski has never been to Burbank, but he holds an unusual claim to fame when it comes to the Southern California entertainment hub: He won a top spot in the national WxChallenge for accurately predicting the weather there for 10 days.
Zuranki and 45 other COD competitors entered the event, which is open to undergraduate, graduate and doctorate students as well as higher education faculty, staff and alumni. College of DuPage finished first in Illinois and 13th in the nation in the contest run by the University of Oklahoma. Six COD participants finished in the top 64 cumulatively among the more than 1,500 contenders.
“There were a lot of colleges competing, really good programs with some really big names in the field, so we were really impressed with how well we did our first year,” he said.
Zuranski first began taking classes at College of DuPage in 2002, but it was an on-and-off venture. He enrolled in his first meteorology classes in 2008 and returned consistently.
“I’ve just always had an interest in thunderstorms and the weather. I figured that even if I never did anything with the classes, I’d always appreciate the knowledge and education,” he said. “When I was considering COD’s Meteorology program, I met with Professor Paul Sirvatka. One of the first things he said was that this is the best school in the country to start your educational career in meteorology. After that first semester, I could tell it really was a great place to go for the subject, and now I completely agree with him that this is the best place to get started.
“There are a number of ways in which Paul and many others help you network with professionals in meteorology and related fields. Our student chapter of the American Meteorological Society brings in speakers and allows students to gain insight and exposure to various career opportunities. We also relay internship opportunities offered by other companies to students. For example, several current and former students have had an internship at WGN.”
Zuranski has earned his Associate in Science degree and the Weather Hazards and Preparedness certificate. He worked as a certified weather observer for Midway Airport and recently was hired as the meteorology support analyst at College of DuPage.
“If you are attending COD for some sort of a program, whether it’s meteorology, automotive or anything, invest some time in connecting with the faculty, staff and other students in that program,” he said. "Study with them, converse with them and just spend time with them on campus or off. Not only will you make new friends, but you will learn so much more than you would from the classes alone. It can also significantly improve your networking opportunities, which I can't over-emphasize how important networking is."
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