For Jacob Magg ‘15, Blackburn was always the answer. The 2015 biology graduate liked the small size, the proximity to home, strong biology curriculum, and the College’s work-learn mission. “The fact that Blackburn can be so small with such a good biology department was what drew me. I was intent on coming,” he said of his reasoning to attend Blackburn. Blackburn so appealed to Jacob that he did not apply to any other institution.
“I was able to build a body of leadership that I don’t think many my age were able to get,” he said. As a student, Jacob sat on numerous committees, including facilities, campus conduct, alumni board and faculty hiring committees. He was also president of Student Senate and Pre-Health Professions Society. Due to his academic and social success, Jacob was awarded the highest honor that can be given to a senior Blackburn student—Student Marshal.
Jacob began work in the Blackburn College Work Program in the Records office where he immediately began making connections with professors and staff. His sophomore year he worked as a chemistry teaching assistant before becoming assistant to Dr. Edward Zalisko, Professor of Biology and anatomy, physiology and zoology tutor. This transition was integral to his learning, allowing him to reinforce the material learned in the classroom over and over as he tutored other students. “Anatomy is an area many people lack when they move on to veterinary school,” he said.” They have to go back through and relearn anatomy since they haven’t had it since freshman or sophomore year. But I was able to constantly teach people.”
One of the most important life-skills Jacob learned while at Blackburn was the ability to communicate professionally. “I learned to speak with different people, of different ages, of different ethnic backgrounds, and I have get the same point across and change how I approach it based on different people’s needs or wants. This communication often extended outside of his peers. As Student Marshal and with his committee positions, Jacob often communicated with the College’s president, vice presidents, and trustees. He even was on the committee who hired the College’s second-in-command, the Provost—a rare experience for most college students.
During his time at Blackburn he also interned at four veterinary clinics, providing him real-world work experience and worked with Dr. Zalisko researching axolotl embryos, monitoring each stage of development. These extraordinary college experiences and his exceptional grades secured Maag acceptance to the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, one of the most highly ranked vet med schools in the county.
When Jacob begins the next phase of his academic career his experiences at Blackburn will remain with him forever, including the countless hours spent at Mahan Science Wing, where he honed his craft, and most importantly, learned. “It is an atmosphere of like-minded people. You can discuss things in a different way, and think about things different, but you’re all going for the same goal. You get to gather everyone else’s knowledge,” he said.
What he misses most, though, is Blackburn’s strong community and the relationships he built with faculty, staff, and fellow students. “There are always those times that get you down,” Jacob said, “But it’s more about the great people with whom you surround yourself.”