TX State professor, students helping NBC at the Winter Olympics

Michael Burns with Hoda Kotb while helping with Today Show coverage at the Olympics (Courtesy: Michael Burns)

SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) — A professor and two students from Texas State University are about to embark on the opportunity of a lifetime.

They’re heading to South Korea to help behind-the-scenes of NBC’s Today Show during the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang.

“I’m a self-declared Olympic nerd,” said Dr. Michael Burns.

The Texas State communications professor is about to pack his bags for his fifth Olympic games.

“My first games was in Torino, Italy for the winter which was awesome — amazing experience,” said Burns.

With Rio in his rear-view mirror, this time Burns is ready to take on the job of Production Coordinator for the Today Show.

Burns will be in charge of a group of volunteer runners who will be running errands for the network, and help put on the morning show production on location. He first landed the gig as a college student himself twelve years ago, and the network has continued to depend on his experience year after year.

Many of the runners are college interns learning how to make TV magic happen, and along the way experience some magical moments themselves.

“In 2008 I was the person who was fortunate enough to be the person who picked up Michael Phelps after his eighth gold medal,” said Burns. “So picking him up and there I am in a car with him. He had all his medals. I’m having this conversation with him and I was actually in the car when President Bush called to congratulate him.”

This is the first time Burns will be taking two students with him — John Lee and Eun Jeong Lee.

“Korean BBQ, I’m so ready,” said John Lee, a sophomore marketing major.

Lee, 19, will fly to South Korea in a week and half, but has not started the packing process just yet. He speaks fluent Korean, and is ready to intern for the biggest sporting event in the world. He’s full of pride for the country where his parents grew up.

“[They have] pure joy and excitement,” said Lee. “I mean there’s no other way to describe it, especially my grandma. She’s been rooting for me since I was little so when I told her she basically started bawling.”

Their internship will last about a month. It’s sure to be an experience they will never forget thanks to a professor helping connect them to the world.

“This is an opportunity that can’t top anything,” Burns.

Eun Jeong Lee is already in South Korea staying with family, and will meet up with Burns and John Lee when they arrive at the end of January.

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