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SGI government teacher Michael Rokitka, his former Springville student Ian Steff and Steff’s family visit Vice President Michael Pence in Washington, D.C. following a ceremony swearing Steff into a new federal position.

By Elyana Schosek
Student Reporter

Over the years, many Springville Griffith Institute High School graduates have gone on to have excellent careers in various fields. Some recognize their high school teachers and other adults that helped them to reach where they are today.

Ian Steff was an SGI graduate who was recently selected for the position of Assistant Secretary for Global Markets and Director General of the United States and Foreign Commercial Service.

With the long title comes a lot of responsibilities including the oversight of approximately 1,400 trade and investment professionals throughout the U.S. and in markets all over the world.

Steff was sworn into the position during a ceremony in Washington, D.C. a few weeks ago.

Michael Rokitka teaches various history and government classes at SGI High School, and among his many students, Rokitka had Steff in a government class when he was in school.

“As a teacher, it is very rewarding when a former student accomplishes something so profound and then recognizes you as part of the inspiration that got them there,” Roktika had said.

Rokitka not only taught Steff but his two brothers as well so he noted that it was “great to catch up with Ian and his family” also calling the whole thing a “tremendous experience.”

During some of the tours, they were able to see and learn about some of the buildings on the White House grounds, like the Eisenhower Executive Office Building where the Vice President has his office. They were even able to see a bit of the inside of his office thanks to the door being left open a crack.

Even though he was only in D.C. for a day, Rokitka still had a chance to meet Vice President Mike Pence at the ceremony and see his office. He noted that it was all a “once-in-a-lifetime experience,” saying he has never been to anything even close to this. Seeing as Vice President Pence was one of the guests at the ceremony, it was evidently an awe-inspiring event.

When asked what his favorite part of the whole thing was, Rokitka couldn’t really pick just one thing. Along with spending time with Steff and his family, he enjoyed “talking to many interesting people that serve the country in the federal government.”

“It’s inspiring to see how many capable people are working hard in the best interest of our country every single day,” he added. Rokitka also mentioned that Ian has a “good team of people supporting him.”

Prior to entering the ceremony space, attendees were asked to place their cell phones in “phone cubbies” as Rokitka called them.

As can be imagined, Rokitka noted that he was “extremely honored” to receive the invitation from his former student.

“This was a pretty unique situation that most likely will not happen again in my career,” he said. “I was very pleased that Ian thought of me to share in his great honor.”

For someone from our small town of Springville to have such a tremendous opportunity in the nation’s capital shows that great leaders can come from anywhere with the right encouragement and guidance.