Jacob was born in 1989 in the Metro-Detroit suburb of Royal Oak, MI. Being the second oldest of six kids he was always seeking to help out and that included bringing some peacekeeping to the craziness that sometimes was the mark of his large family. Growing up he enjoyed helping his dad on different construction projects around the house and also in serving neighbors down the street and in the community. These two passions (building things and serving) have defined much of his life.
Bucking the trend of many of his peers heading to larger state-schools, he decided to head down to tiny Bethel College in Mishawaka, IN. Originally planning to major in Youth Ministry, he decided that he could incorporate the ideas of faith and service into other fields choosing to pursue some natural giftings in engineering. Due to Bethel’s small size they were only able to offer a 3 yr./ 2 yr. cooperative degree program with the neighboring University of Notre Dame. However, Jacob believes that the different perspectives gained from attending two different schools have helped him, and will continue to help him, throughout life. During his three years at Bethel he was active in service, whether through disaster relief trips to Gulfport, MS and Ottawa, OH or as a resident assistant and freshman-year-experience peer mentor. He also had the opportunity to spend two summers as part of a ministry out in Keystone, SD. There, at the foot of Mount Rushmore, he got to work at hotels with young adults from across the globe - Vietnam to Jamaica, Turkey to Ecuador, and many in between - who had come to work for the summer to get a taste of American culture. It was during these two summers that a desire started to grow to spend significant time abroad.
Continuing on from Bethel he spent the next two years fifteen minutes down the road at the University of Notre Dame (home of the Fighting Irish) in South Bend, IN. There he studied civil engineering with a structures concentration. Choosing to concentrate on structures due to his interest in construction he was active on the Precast/Prestressed Institute’s National Big Beam Competition team and ASCE Steel Bridge team. He also continued his passion for service as a freshman year peer adviser. As time drew close to figuring out life after-college he attended a graduate school fair where he first learned about the Peace Corps Master’s International program. At the time he had been considering both graduate school and the Peace Corps; graduate school so he could continue to develop academically and Peace Corps to finally be able to see more of the world while having to opportunity to serve people. So when he realized that he could pursue both the decision was a pretty easy one. Doing his due diligence in researching the different programs, it became clear that the program at the University of South Florida would provide the best support for what he needed. Coming to Tampa sight-unseen he has been thoroughly impressed with the international focus of not only the MI program but also the graduate school as a whole. While in Tampa he enjoyed exploring the different outdoor activities that the area offers such as biking, hiking, canoeing, and camping and enjoying the plethora of cuisine from different cultures. He also spent time volunteering at a local organic farm to learn more about the farming process and to put in some work early on Saturday mornings.
Academically, while he still has a strong passion for structures, he felt that a focus on his interest in water resources would be a better fit with the opportunities that serving in the Peace Corps will provide. He is very excited to spend the next two years, starting September 2013, serving as a Water and Sanitation Engineer in Peru. Growing up hearing Spanish from his maternal Mexican grandparents and putting to use his high school Spanish working at a restaurant and in construction he is looking forward to finally becoming fluent in the language. While it is unclear as to exactly what he’ll be doing in Peru or where exactly he’ll be in the vast country he is very much looking forward to the challenges and rewards that PC service will offer. He also is looking forward to exploring Peru’s deserts, mountains and jungles and eating their delicious food.
If you haven’t heard enough about Jacob his hobbies include: Detroit sports (Go Wings, Tigers, Pistons and Lions!), college football and basketball, woodworking, bicycling, playing the piano, singing, baking, backpacking, hiking, urban exploring, getting ‘Likes’ on Facebook, and a newly found hobby of reading.
Return to Student Bios