University of Northern Iowa business student delivers unique commencement student address
Despite possessing one of the most common names in the English language, Jacob Smith (Marketing '19) rejects the idea of being generic. He’s a bowling-obsessed marketer and entrepreneur who has been described as “intense” on his worst day and “passionate” at his best. Jacob was selected to give the student address at UNI's fall commencement ceremony Saturday, Dec. 21, 2019.
At UNI, Jacob was active in music and business organizations. His biggest accomplishment was tripling the size of the American Marketing Association as co-President in 2018-19. He has also represented UNIBusiness in China and Greece, and competed in tournaments around the Midwest with the UNI Bowling Club.
In his address to graduating students, Jacob described the challenges of writing a traditional commencement address. He referenced three common themes present in most speeches that include reflections on college experiences, advice to fellow students and 'cringy' metaphors for the future. "Since we all have different values, goals and experiences, I’m not going to grandstand and try to give general words of wisdom. I’m a wandering entrepreneur working a remote job and planning to live two minutes from my college campus. And unless you have similar goals, why should you be subjected to my life advice? (Though if you want to chat, hit me up, let’s grab coffee)."
He continued by giving thanks to those who have played a role in his success. "Although I’ve bashed typical graduation speeches plenty today, there is one part that I think is important - giving thanks. I want to take advantage of this platform to acknowledge a few people that have played a major role in making me who I am today. I would like to thank Dean Wilson, Kathleen Porter, Matthew Wilson and Matthew Bunker from UNIBusiness for mentoring me and helping me grow as a marketer and leader. I want to thank Laurie Watje, Bart Schmitz and the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center for empowering me to start a business and driving me to fulfill a greater purpose."
He concluded by reflecting on UNI's impact on students and alumni. "Whether you graduated in 3.5 years or 4.5, worked 30 hours a week or not at all, or studied business or biology, we are all Panthers, and UNI will always be a part of us."
Jacob plans to live and work in Cedar Falls while he continues to build his educational technology startup.