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MSU Profiles

Positive experience directs a winding career path

A professor in the Special Education Department recently won an academic advising award because he believes in the value of personal engagement.

Evan Borisinkoff, director of the department's undergraduate programs, eagerly makes himself available at MSU's Connect registration/orientation sessions for first-year and transfer students.

"I meet them at the first point of contact," he said, noting that he currently advises 35 students in the Special Education Department.

Borisinkoff pictures the advising process as a sturdy scaffolding essential to academic success.

"I like the challenge of how we can get students in and out of here in four years," he said.

Personal approach
The Saskatchewan native was introduced to this caring approach as a master's candidate at MSU. Brent Askvig, his adviser at the time, gave new graduate students his home phone number and maintained an open-door policy.

The assistant professor's teaching has also earned accolades from students in the department. Again, he credits his years at Minot State for his repertoire of teaching techniques.

"I had so many great professors. I picked the best and tried to replicate them," he said.

Uncertain start
The North Battleford native's journey to a career in higher education was an unlikely one. After high school, he worked for a year in a meat shop before he enrolled at the University of Regina to study English. After a year, he transferred to Minot State to major in communication disorders.

"That was not a good fit, but I knew I wanted to work in the helping professions," he said.

Borisinkoff switched to a major in developmental disabilities with a focus on the habilitation of adults. He soon found his footing while doing internships in the local community.

"I had a blast working in group homes," he said. "I felt that this person is struggling with something that I could help him."

Borisinkoff eventually earned associate, undergraduate and graduate degrees during six years at Minot State. His wife, Rebecca Daigneault, earned bachelor's and master's degrees during the same period.

Professional development
After graduation in 2001, the couple spent three years working for a community-centered board in Denver.

After that, Borisinkoff began a doctoral program at the University of New Mexico. The program focused on social justice and inclusive opportunities for children with intellectual disabilities.

"I was looking for a new adventure," he said. "I had worked with adults. I wanted to get some experience in the classroom working and learning with kids."

In the end, Borisinkoff taught for nine years in the Albuquerque, N. M., public schools and worked collaboratively within a team of experienced speech, physical and occupational therapists.

Return home
In 2014, Borisinkoff returned to Minot State. Along with teaching and advising, he serves as research coordinator for the North Dakota Center for Persons with Disabilities (NDCPD), a Center of Excellence, where Daigneault works as a research associate.

The couple has two daughters — Skylar, 5, and Sasha, 3.

"I really enjoyed coming back. There's a lot of déjà vu," he said.

Borisinkoff appreciates the solid base from which career began.

"(Minot State) has opened the doors to a lot of opportunity," he said. "I never once felt like I was unprepared."