Graduating Senior Spotlight: Q&A with Jacob Sternbach

Headshot of Jacob Sternbach wearing a suit and blue tie with trees in the background

Hometown: Albany, NY

Major: Biology, Society, and Environment

Activities you are involved in: UMN Club Hockey, University Honors Program, Microbiology & Physiology Laboratory Teaching Assistant

Did you participate in any student organizations, Learning Abroad programs, research or internship opportunities, or other related experiences? How have you learned from them?

I have participated in research in the Prins Lab, which is part of the Lillehei Heart Institute here at UMN. Learning about laboratory techniques in my coursework and being able to apply them in a research setting has allowed me to retain much more knowledge than would have otherwise been possible. 

What is your favorite class that you took in CLA? Is there a professor that you particularly enjoyed working with? How did they prepare you for the next phase of your life?

I took a class on environmental hazards in the Department of Geography. My professor, Kurt Kipfmueller, was excellent at showing the interaction between humans and the environment in different societies, with an emphasis on how different communities responded differently to natural disasters. 

I appreciated this course because it was out of my wheelhouse, but I was able to adapt some of my data analysis and research skills from my biology courses to find success in a geography course as well. Being challenged to use my skills on new topics has allowed me to be more adaptable and resilient in the face of a challenge.

How would you describe your time in your major?

The BSE major is very diverse in the required and elective courses. This has allowed me to focus primarily on my biology-based courses while also feeling literate in other fields, such as sociology, geography, and philosophy. This flexibility has also been nice for feeling out what I wanted to pursue after college, as I did not have a definitive direction beforehand. 

Why is a liberal arts education important to you?

A liberal arts education is important to me, as I place a lot of value on being a well-rounded individual. No academic field exists in a vacuum, so crosstalk between the fields is integral to contributing meaningfully to society. A liberal arts education is a good tool to become literate in multiple academic fields. 

What is your favorite study spot on campus?

The couches on the second floor of Nils-Hasselmo Hall facing the downtown skyline!

What's next for you? What are your post-graduation plans?

I will be working as a veterinary assistant and continuing my research at the U during a gap year while I apply to veterinary school.

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