Jasper Baur

By Zoë Eitel
When Jasper Baur got involved with his high school’s chapter of Habitat for Humanity, he didn’t realize it would uncover a passion and direct his career path. For Jasper, he was moved by the organization’s goal of fighting for a “decent place to live for all,” and it’s changed his life.
As soon as Jasper started at DePaul, he launched the university’s chapter of Habitat for Humanity, and since then, it’s grown from six members to over 300 and has completed projects across the country. Using his chapter connections and in conjunction with a UIP course, Jasper was able to network himself to an internship with Habitat for Humanity Chicago.

Research and Alumni Management Specialist at Housing Action Illinois

BA Peace, Justice and Conflict Studies 2021

“It was a truly unique experience because I was doing important background work on the weekdays—fundraising, organizing volunteers, etc.—and then building houses with those resources on the weekends,” he says. “I was seeing both the administrative side to nonprofits and how that related to actual construction.”
Jasper has since moved on from Habitat for Humanity and started an internship with Housing Action Illinois where he reaches out to former AmeriCorps service members and collects information to assess how well Housing Action’s AmeriCorps Network has done with providing professional development and employment opportunities.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Jasper’s internship with Housing Action has been remote. There were some technical hurdles in the beginning but things are now running smoothly.

“While I am at my internships, I am confronted with the stark realities of American inequity. At the same time my professors are teaching me historical context for the systemic challenges I am witnessing at work.”

“One of my fears about being remote was being separated from the larger organization,” Jasper says. “However, despite being remote, my coworkers have made themselves available to me for one-on-one zoom calls, and I still feel connected to the broader organization.”
Communication is something that is really important to Jasper in the organizations he works with, and both Habitat for Humanity and Housing Action Illinois have taught him to value that and look for that quality in a future organization.
“When I started my internship with Habitat Chicago, one of the things that I appreciated was that I never felt intimidated to go to my boss or coworkers with ideas or questions,” he says. “At one point my supervisor gave me 20 minutes from my normal tasks to pitch policy changes with regards to our Campus Chapters, and that was something I really appreciated!”
Jasper has seen how his internships and peace, justice and conflict studies classes work hand in hand. Without both experiences, Jasper would be missing out on learning many of the nuances and reasons behind some of the systemic issues his internship organizations fight.
Something he’s learned from both his internships and his classes is that the field can be fast-paced but exciting and fulfilling, and that it’s important to have multiple skill sets.
“One often finds themselves wearing multiple hats, doing multiple tasks outside their job description,” he says. “Yet, that environment is also fulfilling, you see the fruits of your labor, and your coworkers are amazing people.”
To plan for his future, Jasper has been meeting with a career advisor at the Career Center to talk through his next steps. 
“From mid-April to now, I have met with Jen Fleming consistently every week,” he says. “She has helped in everything from resume review, to drafting emails to employers. I could not speak higher of her, she is the reason why I am being scouted by the Peace Corps, she is the reason why I am at my internship with Housing Action Illinois.”
Jasper is currently pursuing a deployment with the Peace Corps in Economic Development in Latin America and hoping to be deployed next year if the pandemic allows. He also looks forward to pursuing a career in foreign policy at the State Department, the US Agency for International Development or at a non-governmental organization.
“I know that there is a lot of work to be done, and there is no magic wand that can solve housing inequity,” he says. “Yet, I am inspired by the people who I have met and the experiences I had, and I cannot wait to double down in fighting against housing inequity.”