Jacob Soltis ’17 has changed his career direction several times. Graceland offers a unique opportunity for students to find and develop their own path. The faculty are sincerely interested in helping each student, even if their path isn’t a linear one. Part of the Graceland experience for Jacob has been about exploring different interests and gaining leadership experience while moving toward graduation.
Jacob came to Graceland from Pennsylvania on a track scholarship and received the Study and Faith Scholarship through Community of Christ. He began as an athletic training major but couldn’t watch an injury happen. He realized his freshman year that he needed to change his plans.
“After athletic training was out, I was doing actuarial science,” explained Jacob. But he was missing the social piece of a career path. Graceland professor Linda DeBarthe described the possibility of focusing on big data, which analyzes numbers and gives them an English representation for companies to apply to their marketing plan. Jacob continued, “I figured the math and computer science prepare me to understand numbers, and the business helps me know what to do with them and how to present them in a strategic way. I enjoy gathering data; analyzing and converting it into spreadsheets for a purpose. But I also really enjoy people; making relationships within a community.”
So he’s a numbers guy who likes people – a really good combination.
DeBarthe explained, “When I first met Jacob, he was planning to be an actuary. The more he prepared for that field, however, the more he realized that wasn’t exactly what he wanted to do. He took an accounting class and realized there are all sorts of business fields that would utilize his quantitative and technology skills, while also letting him use his social skills. He’s now customizing a degree. He’s combining business, math and information technology to prepare for career options in big data, an emerging field.”
With encouragement and guidance from his professors, Jacob has returned to Graceland for a fifth year and will graduate with math and business majors, and a minor in information technology.
In addition to academics, Jacob has taken on his share of extracurricular and leadership roles at Graceland. “This year I am House President,” he explains, “which takes an enormous amount of time, but it’s helpful for leadership training. I’ve been on student government most of my time at Graceland: on the intramural board, as a chaplain and now HP. What I love about Graceland is the community of people and the opportunities I’ve had to become involved.”
Jacob has benefited from the relationships, encouragement and involvement in the Graceland community. His path has zig-zagged, and he isn’t sure if he wants to get an MBA or dive into a job and work his way up, but he is discovering his passion for life and is no doubt creating a spreadsheet to illustrate his many career choices.