Editor’s note (Michelle here): In this Thanksgiving season, it brings me great joy to share this Life After Graduation profile from 2015 OM&IS alumnus Jacob Ferguson, another wonderful and recently graduated alumn. Not too very long ago Jacob managed all things social media for the College of Business accounts, including the Student Voices weblog. As you read this post, you’ll soon discover that Jacob continues to be true to who he is and what he believes. Thank you, Jacob, for sharing your wisdom and journey so far! Keep living into your passions and making an incredible difference! Happy season of gratitude!
(Start date: 3 months after graduation.) I currently have the honor and privilege to serve as a Corps Member at City Year in Chicago along with over 200 other individuals in an effort to help students and schools succeed. We work to bridge the gap in high-poverty communities between the support that students need, and what their schools are designed and resourced to provide. With City Year, I work full-time on a team with other Corps Members and our Team Leader. Together, we provide students with academic support and after school programming focusing on the areas of attendance, behavior, and course performance.
You chose a different path after graduation…
I decided to choose a job that allowed me to make a difference and give back to my community right after college because it is something that has always been important to me and close to my heart. At a young age I learned the importance of volunteerism. That value has remained important to me through the years. Another reason is that I personally know there will never be another time in my life when I have as few commitments as I do now. Also, I’m of the belief that if I serve now, I am increasing the odds that these types of issues will not be around when I am older.
Who is your hero and why?
This answer changes daily. There are probably a million people that I can say come to mind when asked this question, but the one that sticks out the most in mind my is my mother Cheryl. My father passed away when I was in high school, and she really took it upon herself to ensure that we got everything we needed to succeed. She has always
challenged me to do my best and has been an intricate part in helping me to become the man I am today. I honestly don’t know where I would be without her and all that she has done for me.
Describe your most meaningful/favorite experience at NIU.
I would have to say being involved. There were so many opportunities and experiences that I was able to take advantage of simply as a result of being involved. NIU already has a student organization for nearly everything, and if they don’t, they highly encourage you to create your own. In many ways, being involved is also where I learned and grew the most during my time at NIU. It provides a great opportunity to apply the skills that I learned in the classroom. It’s something that I believe every student should take advantage of.
What did you learn about yourself at NIU?
I learned a lot about who I am and the person that I aspire to be. I had the opportunity to experience a lot of different things: from traveling to other countries to taking a stand against social issues. Each experience has made me better in some way. I think a lot about what my life would have been like had I not attended NIU, and I can honestly say that going to NIU was one of the best decisions that I ever made.
Name three things you want to do in life:
1. Hike the Appalachian Trail. An alumnus and friend from NIU actually did this after graduation. Ever since I talked to him about doing it, it has moved to the top of my bucket list. The thrill of being engulfed by nature, having time away from the world to reflect and grow as a person and building relationships with people you would otherwise have never had the opportunity to meet really resonates with me. I am actually considering doing this after my year of service with City Year is up.
2. Paddle board in Bora Bora. This is a recent addition to my bucket list, but I mean come on…how awesome does this sound? Plus, sleeping in an over-water bungalow sounds like an extraordinary experience.
3. Sky dive. This is probably the most realistic item on my bucket list of the three. I think it is fair to say that I will have this one crossed off by next summer.
Tell us your “WHY?”
I’m just a young individual from Chicago trying to build my legacy and be remembered for the impact that I have on others and on the world. I view my life as a series of adventures. Some are longer and far more thrilling than others, but they all ultimately help to depict the journey. And they all are guided by a mantra that we followed as students in an NIU student group—NIU CAUSE—that I participated in with so many friends and kindred spirits. That mantra is “be unreasonable.” Be unreasonable enough to believe that you can make a positive impact in the world. Be unreasonable enough to go after your dreams.