CALS student finds his identity at UI
Jake Smith has a lot of interests: Writing. Photography. Shooting and editing video. And clothing design.
“I have all these creative outlets,” Smith said.
The graduating University of Idaho senior is combining that creativity into a double major in apparel, textiles and design in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) and public relations from the College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences (CLASS).
Storytelling is Smith’s first love.
“I had this cardboard box that I flipped upside-down to make my own little desk, and I would pretend to be a writer in our living room,” said Smith, who is from Rathdrum. “Fast forward to fourth grade and I would always try to finish my math assignment really quickly, because I knew my teacher would let me go into the hall and write little stories.”
Smith started out at UI majoring in journalism and creative writing in CLASS. He worked for the UI student newspaper, The Argonaut, throughout his freshman and sophomore years before deciding to change his major to public relations, where he could be more subjective in his writing. But something was missing.
“I needed a creative outlet. I’d always loved clothing, I always had an idea of what I wanted to wear, and so this gave me an outlet to pursue that and understand the apparel industry if I was going to be writing about it,” said Smith, who decided to add a major in apparel, textiles and design. “This served a really important purpose for me — it served as a tool or learning point for creative thinking and really affected my outlook on what your work is supposed to be as a creative.”
In CALS, Smith received the Robert and Alvena Deerkop Scholarship, which funds student interns. Smith worked as a writing and videography intern, where he wrote feature stories for the CALS website under his advisor Amy Calabretta, CALS marketing and communications manager, and shot videos for Hans Guske, CALS digital media producer.
“Through my work for Amy, I’ve really learned to expand and understand my storytelling abilities,” Smith said. “I’ve worked pretty closely with Hans since last year. He’s introduced me to this creative outlet and taught me how to think of telling a story through a visual aspect. He opened up this new form of storytelling for me and has been immensely helpful in teaching me how to improve my visuals, use cameras, shoot video and use new software.”
Guske said that he and Smith have worked as a team and much of what they have accomplished could not have been done without him.
“From where he was to where he is now is insane to see the progression,” Guske said. “It got to where he was teaching me things and I was so proud of him at that point — that’s all I wanted. To take something apart and put it completely back together; that’s how you master, and I think that’s where he’s at now and he’ll be able to apply what he’s learned to anything in the future.”
Smith is grateful for his opportunities in CALS and feels they have significantly helped to prepare him for the future.
“Not many students have the opportunity that I’ve had to work with such amazing gear under these people that can teach me so much,” Smith said. “I came in here as a sponge and I’m still trying to learn more and more from these people, but I haven’t even scratched the surface. They’ve really helped me in a lot of ways.”
Smith also worked at the UI Library and completed a summer writing internship with Tedder Industries, a gun holster manufacturer located in Post Falls. Smith will continue working for Tedder Industries as a copywriter in their marketing department after he graduates from UI in May.
“Before I came to UI I didn’t have a real identity at my core, and so the university itself gave me the tools I needed to shape myself into who I wanted to be,” Smith said. “I was able to find a career path, find purpose, an understanding of who I am, what I want to do and why I’m doing it.”
Story by Jean Parrella, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences