An integral part of Jacob’s undergraduate experience has been the Honors Program, a group of high-performing students. “It provides not only a support structure which pulls each other up when needed, but it also provides a firm foundation for healthy, mutually beneficial friendships,” he says.
He notes his participation in the inaugural Fantastic Journeys class taught by Robert K. Marshall Professor of English Professor and Honors Program Director Heather Hayton. It included a study abroad trip to Spain and Portugal where they walked on El Camino de Santiago, an ancient pilgrimage trail named for St. James the Great.
“This gave me great confidence as a person about my ability to travel and to exist in uncomfortable spaces,” he says. “It has also led me to believe that human growth occurs most often when people are uncomfortable. Experiencing this type of adventure with a group such as ours led to extraordinary growth as a community.”
Later, Jacob had the honor of being a teaching assistant for a Fantastic Journeys class taught by Religious Studies Professor Jill Peterfeso.
“The Honors Program developed me as a scholar in a couple of key ways. First, it rekindled a passion for learning and natural curiosity that may have been dulled by years of ‘learning’ through rote memorization,” he says. “Second, it has given me the confidence I need to strive for excellence in academics and set my sights on graduate school.”
Jacob plans to pursue Religious Studies in graduate school in order to “share the liberating power of faith to work toward repairing the world around us.” He has considered teaching, preaching from the pulpit, or ministering to those outside the walls of institutions.
He also already has his job lined up for next summer. “I’ll be the Program Director at Cherokee Scout Reservation in Yanceyville, N.C. It’s a summer camp owned and operated by the Old North State Council for Scouts BSA and Cub Scouts. I’ll help create a positive, welcoming, and inclusive camp-wide culture and ensure that program staff are equipped with the necessary attributes, instructional strategies, and equipment to provide all campers a dynamic and fun week-long summer camp experience.”