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Jake Knox
More Than I Imagined Seniors reflect on accomplishments and look ahead

Jake Knox

Graduation year: 2019

Hometown: Streator, Ill.

Majors: Economics, mathematics

Minor: Political science

Activities: Sports Medicine Club

Internship: Intern at the Office of Congresswoman Cheri Bustos

Post-grad plans: Pursue a Master of Public Policy from the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago

Why Augustana?

I initially came to Augustana because I was planning on pursuing a career in physics. I met with the faculty at a few events, and I connected with them and could see that they would give me an excellent education, which they did. Despite me changing my career plans, I still have an excellent relationship with the physics faculty.

Another aspect that drew me here was the Honors program, specifically the Logos track, which put me with other STEM-focused students and forced us to look at the connection that science has with the humanities. That experience opened my eyes to whole new ways to look at the world, and I couldn't be more grateful for it.

Are you where you thought you’d be when you first came to campus?

I am absolutely not where I thought I'd be when I first came to campus. Like I said, I was planning on going into physics, but I as I continued my education here, I realized, slowly, that my interest lies more in the realm of politics than physics.

Who helped you get to where you are now?

I have been impacted by so many faculty members here at Augustana. The first professors to really have an impact on me were Dr. Stewart and Dr. Kaul from the Honors program who forced me to challenge my beliefs and examine the world through new lenses, and to this day will stop and have conversations with me when we see each other on campus.

My physics advisor Dr. Vogel, who encouraged me to follow my passion, even if it wasn't physics.

The entire math faculty, who have made the math offices feel like a place where I can not only seek help with math, but also talk through some of the biggest decisions that I've made during my time here.

The economics faculty that have given me sage advice and opened me up to opportunities that I could have never imagined on my own.

Peak experience?

One of my favorite experiences was attending and presenting a poster at the Mathematical Association of America's annual MathFest conference the summer after my sophomore year. It was a great culmination of a five-month experience working on a data analytics project for a real company, and the presentations and lectures I attended helped me realize the wide applications that math has across many disciplines.

What surprised you?

What surprised me most was learning that it's important to take some time for myself. I've always been one to go 100% all the time, but I found myself getting run-down. When I started to set aside time to just relax and spend some time outside or watch TV, I found that I became more efficient and more passionate about the work that I was doing for school.

How did you use Augie Choice?

I am just now using my Augie Choice as a stipend for my internship at Congresswoman Cheri Bustos’ Rock Island District Office. It is an amazing opportunity and not having to work as much on campus helped make it a more enjoyable experience and reduce some of the stress during my last term.

What will you miss the most?

I'll miss the relationships and the atmosphere here at Augie the most. I would say that 95% of the time that I pass through the Brew, there is at least one person there that I can stop and have a conversation with. It really feels like home here.

Advice for the Class of 2023?

The classes that require the most work are the classes that you get the most out of. Don't avoid a class because your peers say it’s hard; those are the classes you want to be in. If you aren't challenged during your time here, then you’ve wasted it.

“It took Jake a while to decide what type of career he wanted to pursue. When he added coursework in political science to math and economics, that seemed to light a fire under him. Public policy is a great fit for Jake, and his curiosity will serve him well in graduate school at the University of Chicago.”

– Dr. Joanna Short, associate professor, economics