ND man spends life giving back


“It’s not about the destination, but the journey that takes you there.”

Those are the words of Ralph Emerson, and a daily reminder for one North Dakota man.

In this edition of Positively North Dakota, we share the story of a man who has dedicated his life to service.

“He has an incredible story and we’re so glad he can share it with Minot State students,” said Janna McKechnie, director of alumni relations at Minot State University, about Dr. Michael Saba, a 1965 graduate of MSU.

Having traveled all over the world, McKenchie said there is a lot of students who can learn from him.

“I hope they realize the world is there for them as well. That there are opportunities at every turn,” said McKechnie.

And for Dr. Saba, he said he remembers the exact turn that got him on his way to a life of service.

“I had the opportunity to meet John F. Kennedy and I was very impressed and touched by his discussion about the concept of the Peace Corps,” said Dr. Saba.

For the Bismarck native, that encounter would be the cornerstone on which he would build his life’s work.

“He did tell me and another group of young people. He said I want to give you all the opportunity to serve your country, not only in the military but in a way to help people in other countries,” said Dr. Saba.

“I’ve just had the international wind at my back ever since.”

Travel is exactly what he did.

Going to Malaysia, Thailand and Africa, he said there was one mission trip he’ll never forget.

“Saddam Hussein decided to invade Kuwait and I was caught in that. I was taken hostage, so I spent about almost two weeks as a hostage in Iraq,” said Dr. Saaba.

After escaping, Saba said he knew he had to continue with his life mission.

When returning to the U.S. he worked at St. Jude’s Children hospital, as well as Sanford Health, setting up children’s clinics around the globe.

“My work has been to build bridges. It is so important to build bridges,” said Dr. Saba.

Currently serving in the South Dakota House of Representatives, Dr. Saba said the work of giving back never stops.

“Been there, doing that, because I’m still doing it and I will do it as long as I can,” said Dr. Saba.

This afternoon, Dr. Saba will be honored with the Golden Award. The award is the highest honor given out by the MSU Alumni Association.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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