Mike Provasnik '97: Cultural Lessons Learned Apply in Bagdad, Business
Not only did his professors help him to secure an internship, says Mike Provasnik '97, but they also gave him the confidence and cultural awareness needed to succeed in his career—and a global awareness that stayed with him, including on a hot, dusty road taking fire in Bagdad.
Provasnik, who graduated in ’97 with a degree in Sociology specializing in Human Services, credits Dr. Norman Johnston, Professor Emeritus of Sociology, Dr. Doreen Loury, Assistant Professor of Sociology and Director of Act 101, and Dr. Norah Shultz, Founding Dean of the College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences and Associate Vice President for Undergraduate Education, with assisting him during his time at Arcadia.
“Dr. Loury’s class on race was insightful, thought-provoking and led to great discussion,” he says. “She helped me gain a different perspective on race relations in America, and I can't thank her enough for it.” Both courses he took with Johnston and Loury expanded his cultural awareness, he adds.
Shultz helped him to secure an internship at Greenleaf Nursing Home in Doylestown, Pa. “But more than that, she mentored me throughout my time at Arcadia and treated me as a peer and a friend,” he says. “Because of her, I appreciated the impact that one's environment has on shaping an individual.”
At Greenleaf, Provasnik was the only social worker. He was responsible for meeting one-on-one with residents, organizing recreational activities and gathering information. “The internship helped to instill me with confidence and taught me to rely on my education and training when I needed to. This became extremely relevant a few years later when I was a young lieutenant in the Army leading soldiers into combat.”
All of these experiences were valuable during his time in the Army. He served from 2000 to 2004 and spent 15 months in Iraq. He cites one specific example that incorporated his experiences with cultural awareness.
While on patrol in Baghdad, the Humvee he was driving received direct fire from another vehicle. Fortunately, no one was hurt and the suspect was apprehended. While transporting the suspect to the detention facility, Provasnik remembered a mantra he had learned in Johnston’s deviant behavior class.
“Since it was 120 degrees, I decided to pull our Humvee over and gave the shooter some water. It was difficult to do since he was shooting at me and my men, but my rationale was: ‘Treat a man like an animal and he'll act like an animal. Treat him with respect, and he'll act like a man.’ This sentiment stems back to my class with Dr. Johnston.”
Today, Provasnik holds an M.B.A. from Temple and runs his own defense acquisition company called The Mayvin Consulting Group Inc. The basis for his current success was formed during his experiences at Arcadia, he says. “Navigating the complex world of inserting technology-based solutions into the modern battlefield requires knowledge,” says the company’s Web site. “The Mayvin Consulting Group brings expert knowledge of life cycle management, streamlined acquisition, and warfighter requirements to government organizations. We create effective strategies for program design, execution, and sustainment while implementing action plans to speed product delivery into the current and future force.”