This week, we are celebrating the college graduation of our very first two Jack & Julie Narcolepsy Scholarships recipients from 2014. Recently, Kendra graduated from the University of St. Thomas and Jacob graduated from The Ohio State! Today, we are sharing Jacob’s awesome update. Read Kendra’s update here.
Jacob’s College Graduation Update:
Jacob was diagnosed with narcolepsy at age 11. In 2014, he was awarded one of the very first Jack and Julie Narcolepsy Scholarships in 2014 as he started at The Ohio State. Recently, Jacob graduated with degrees in economics and mathematics! This summer, he will move to Boston, MA to work for IBM as an Analytics Consultant.
Project Sleep: Can you describe an accomplishment from college?
Jacob: Four years ago, I never would have guessed I would end up with a degree in math. In high school I was not a fan of math, but when I took calculus as a GE my freshman year, I started to realize I actually enjoyed it. In particular, I really enjoyed the challenge because it focused all of my attention and effort. Once I got to my upper-level math classes, I enjoyed the fact that they entail a fair bit of writing (as you have to prove and justify everything) because I learned how to communicate with more clarity and precision.
What surprised you about having narcolepsy in college?
I was surprised how little having narcolepsy sticks out. College students are known for their poor sleep habits, so being tired/sleeping in the middle of the day is not abnormal. I was also somewhat surprised how little having narcolepsy prevented me from accomplishing my goals. It may take an extra bit of discipline in modifying your schedule (sleep and otherwise) and discipline in maintaining it, but other than that, the sky is still the limit.
Were any mentors or friendships particularly important to you for succeeding in college?
Yes, one of each. For the mentor, I have been working for about a year as a research assistant for a professor in the Department of Economics. I have valued my time working for him because he is both an excellent researcher and an excellent person. He is a world class researcher yet also interested in the development of the people working for him.
For the friend, I met one of my good friends in a study abroad course the summer after my freshman year. He is four years older than me because he served 4 years in the navy after graduating high school. I have valued our friendship for a number of reasons. Besides being a great friend, he is one of the most persistent people I know, and I have learned a great deal from him about leadership and life that he learned during his time in the Navy.
What advice would you give younger students taking on college with narcolepsy?
Take care of your health! That applies in general, but I find eating properly and going to the gym generally improve my symptoms as well. Also, one of the perks of being a college student is the flexible schedule. Use this to your advantage. If you do better in the morning, at night, or just need to sneak in a nap in the middle of the day, these are all possible if you craft your schedule properly.
Please join us in congratulating Jacob and wishing him luck as he starts the next chapter of his journey! Meet all 50 of the students we’ve awarded scholarships to over the past five years.