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Dean's Award: Thomas Jacobs

Dean's Award is awarded to the outstanding senior in each department.

My name is Thomas Jacobs.
I was born and raised in North Idaho, spending my life roaming the outdoors in and around the Sandpoint area.

Why did you choose UI?
Both of my parents are Vandals, which gave me my first exposure to Idaho at a very young age. Additionally, I have family in Moscow, and one of my favorite activities each year is loading up the car and traveling to Moscow to watch a Vandal football or basketball game. This helped make the University of Idaho my first choice of college. Not only was Idaho attractive due to its low in-state tuition balanced with high educational quality, but my visits to the campus were exceptional. The professors were very friendly, and I felt like I immediately fit in with the student body.

Thomas Jacobs hiking in a selectively logged area near Bovill
Hiking in a selectively logged area near Bovill.


Introduction to Fly Fishing. I enjoyed all of my math classes so well that it is hard to pick specific ones that stood out significantly. However, this fly fishing class was not only exceptionally fun, but it instilled a passion in me and taught me a lifelong skill that I still use every summer.

Rob Ely, Mathematics. Rob has an innate way of relating to the students and making even the most difficult topics engaging and understandable. He has a passion for teaching that I strive to match everyday when I am teaching in my own classroom.

Chemistry 111. My favorite part of this lab is that it was made up entirely of freshman in the honors program, helping establish friendships and relationships that would last throughout college. Additionally, I had a stellar instructor – Megha Karki – who had a gift of breaking down the complexities of chemistry into digestible pieces.

Research Project?
Proof of the Five Color Theorem – this project gave me a unique look at the history of mathematics that I had never seen in any course up to that point. One of my passions is applied mathematics, and I was able to integrate mathematics, geography, history, and cartography into one final presentation.

Thomas Jacobs socializing with the team after the Onionfest tournament in Walla Walla
Socializing with the team after the Onionfest Ultimate Frisbee Tournament in Walla Walla.

Study Time

Study early or procrastinate?
Always get it done right away. I would finish projects early so that dead week and finals week were very relaxed for me.

Go-to Snack?

Thomas Jacobs making a catch during regional Ultimate meet in Missoula
Thomas making a catch during regional Ultimate meet in Missoula.

Campus Life

What UI memory makes you laugh the most?
The variety of people in my Sports in American Society class, leading to very interesting (and sometimes strange) class discussions.

Dorm or Greek?
Dorm – I lived in Graham Hall in the Tower and then moved off campus for the rest of school. The dorm helped me make friendships that I still maintain to this day.

Intramural Sports or Student Clubs?
Ultimate Frisbee and Math Club

Thomas Jacobs socializing with friends in a living community
Socializing with friends in a living community.

What's Next?

What are your plans for after graduation?
I am just completing a teaching internship and plan on becoming a high school math teacher. My goal as an educator is to change the negative viewpoint that so many students have toward mathematics.

What should incoming first-year students know?
Make sure that you study first and socialize later – it will make your life a lot less stressful. When you are studying, make sure to do it at the library, not in your dorm or at your house. Finally, become active in as many programs as you can; not only are there plentiful opportunities in service or activity, but these activities look excellent on a resume when you are looking for that first job after college.

What advice do you have for other students in your major?
Make sure to take classes from outside your major. Especially in mathematics, you can get stuck in a rut having the same 10 or 15 classmates throughout your college career. Some of my most memorable classes were in geography, astronomy, forestry, and history. Part of your education should be to make you a well-rounded, more informed citizen.

Thomas Jacobs hiking on the Palouse
Hiking on the Palouse


College of Science

Physical Address:
Mines 321

Mailing Address:
875 Perimeter Drive MS 3025
Moscow, ID 83844-3025

Phone: (208) 885-6195

Fax: (208) 885-6904


Web: College of Science