Duncan Jurayj: Big-hearted Beaver Student Builds Small-Sized House

By: Perry Eaton

Beaver students think big. From the classroom to the stage to the athletic fields, members of our community put their large ideas into motion every day. But for eleventh grader Duncan Jurayj, thinking big means thinking tiny.

“I got into small living spaces when I went to California in eighth grade,” Jurayj said. “I saw VW buses and I just thought they looked cool. Then I found out that people were actually converting and living in them.”

This led Jurayj to further explore the ways that people were ditching larger living quarters and opting for a more minimalist lifestyle.

“I got into looking at tiny living spaces on the internet, which led me to explore tiny houses,” Jurayj said. “I never thought of building one of my own, though, until I heard about the grant.”

The grant he refers to is the Alex Cohn Grant, a gift of $5,000 donated to a Beaver student each year to pursue a major passion project. Out of more than a dozen entrees, Jurayj was selected to build a tiny house of his own. The only thing standing in his way was a lack of building experience.

According to Jurayj, he took this matter into his own hands and used the Internet as his biggest resource. How-to videos on Youtube provided him with the basics of carpentry and helped him to solve problems along the way. Another great influence on this problem-solving mindset was Jurayj’s semester at NuVu last fall. While he did very little actual building of the tiny house at this program, he draws parallels between both experiences and gained continued inspiration from his term there.

“The types of frustrations that I experienced at NuVu were similar to the types of frustrations I’ve experienced with the tiny house,” Jurayj explained.

As of late September, Jurayj has built the entire exterior of his house and is currently working on the plumbing. The process has been trial and error, but that hasn’t deterred him from honing a passion for building. If anything, building this house has shown Jurayj just how doable these seemingly daunting projects are.

“I wouldn’t say I have any big dreams or plans for what’s next,” Jurayj said. “But I feel like as I’ve gotten further [with this project], I’ve felt more willing to take bigger risks. They’re more attainable than they really seem, and once you’re in the project itself, if you look at it just one step at a time, it definitely seems more reachable.”

Jurayj will bring the tiny house to Beaver’s campus in mid-October. He says that at some point, the house will be open for students to check out. After its visit to Beaver, Jurayj plans to donate the house to a charity that could use it for transitional housing.

As for his carpentry career, Jurayj isn’t sworn to a life of hammer and nails, but is optimistic that his building ways will stick with him for a while.

“I don’t know what I want to do as a career,” Jurayj said. “But I do think I will continue to build things forever.”

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