All the pieces connect for Dahl

By Emily Schmidt
University Communications Student Assistant

MINOT, N.D. – Jacob Dahl has three passions: Spanish, basketball, and helping others. Minot State University offers him a community to put them all into action.

After graduating in 2014 from Lake City High School in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, Dahl served a two-year mission in Mexico for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“I went down and spent about six weeks in Mexico City, and that's where they helped me figure out what we would be doing, like missionaries and a little bit of language development,” Dahl said. “Then I flew to Veracruz, and I was in several of the cities there, pretty much everywhere.”

During those two years, Dahl explored both large cities and rural farm towns, offering his help wherever he could.

“A lot of people use machetes to like cut their lawns, so I did a lot of that, a lot of painting, just helping out with whatever people were doing and then just like talking with people,” he said. “If they needed help with something, then I’d help them with that. If they wanted their house painted, I’d paint their house, or if they’re like, ‘What do you guys believe?’ we’d share that. It just varied.”

Dahl made many connections in Mexico, but an interaction with one man stood out to him.

“We met this guy who had a drug and alcohol addiction, and his wife and his daughter were struggling. In a drunken haze he invited us over,” Dahl said. “We got to know him, and we're like, hey man, this is what we believe, and we're not telling you what to do or anything, but we think that your life would be way better if you cut that stuff out. Then he started to stop. It’s super ignorant to say like, oh I'm going to go help out somebody with that, because I'm not an expert in that stuff, but by the will of God or something I was able to play a role in helping his life become better.”

Dahl’s journey of helping people did not end after he left Mexico. Today, he teaches English-speaking preschoolers Spanish at the Learning Tree education center in Minot, and he teaches Spanish-speaking students English at Bell Elementary and Minot State.

“I just try my best to help these students develop their English and be as successful academically as they can,” he said. “Again, not like I'm the one doing anything, but just to be there and see them develop. It's been a huge blessing having the Spanish language because it seems like anytime there's a low on my schedule, somebody seems to offer me an opportunity to use Spanish to bless the lives of somebody else.”

On top of earning his Spanish education degree, Dahl also plays for the Minot State basketball team where his coach, Matt Murken, believes he offers a new perspective.

“He’s had some life experiences that maybe other people haven’t, with him having been on a two-year mission and being married,” Murken said. “He’s maybe at a little bit different point in his life than some college students. He has seen so many different things, different experiences that he can find a way to relate to everybody on the team. He’s just a guy that a lot of guys are comfortable around and a valuable part of the team.”

Dahl was drawn to Minot State first because of basketball, but he quickly realized there was much more to offer.

“That's what kind of sparked us to venture out, but also Minot State has a really good education program, and I'm studying Spanish education, and they have a really good nursing program, and my wife, Hannah, is studying nursing, so honestly it was a really good fit,” he said.

Just like that, all the pieces connected for Dahl, and he gets to use both Spanish and basketball to impact the lives of others.

About Minot State University
Minot State University is a public university dedicated to excellence in education, scholarship, and community engagement achieved through rigorous academic experiences, active learning environments, commitment to public service, and a vibrant campus life.

Published: 11/07/19   

» More MSU News