An engineer builds community in student housing, with an impact campus-wide

Published: May 8, 2023

UMBC student Ify Jacob on campus, looking into the camera.
Ify Jacob '23, computer engineering. (Marlayna Demond '11/UMBC)

Ify Jacob

Degree: B.S., Computer Engineering
Hometown: Gaithersburg, MD
Post-grad plans: Software engineer at Northrop Grumman

Ify Jacob’s mentors describe him as someone who has worked tirelessly to create community among Retrievers in on-campus student housing, particularly as they dealt with the challenges and traumas of COVID-19. Jacob currently serves as vice president of UMBC’s Residential Student Association, but his journey of leadership through service has taken place over the course of years at UMBC.

Jacob has served as a Welcome Week leader (known as a “Woolie”) and as an office assistant in Residential Life. On the academic side, he has been a teaching fellow in engineering and computer science courses. He has also served as captain for UMBC Men’s Club Soccer

Jacob also served in several leadership roles as a member of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity, saying that joining the fraternity helped him to step outside of his comfort zone. “Being a member of Pi Kappa Phi gave me the confidence that I could adapt to any situation. The positions I held gave me firsthand leadership experience, which applies to my other campus roles,” says Jacob. 

Following a systems engineering internship at Northrop Grumman in summer 2022, coordinated with the support of UMBC’s Career Center, the company offered Jacob a full-time position. He will begin that role after graduation. 

15 members of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity on UMBC's campus with arms around one another, smiling and posing for a picture.
Ify Jacob (back row, second from the right) with members of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity. (Photo courtesy of Ify Jacob)

Has there been a mentor or fellow student who influenced your time at UMBC?

Jamie Gurganus ‘20, mechanical engineering, has been a professor, mentor, and advisor to me since my freshman year. I took her Introduction to Engineering course and she later gave me the opportunity to serve as a teaching fellow for the course, which I’ve done for four consecutive semesters. I’m also currently taking a two-semester seminar course that will lead to an associate undergraduate teaching certification through the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning, facilitated by Dr. Gurganus. She has had a huge impact on my undergraduate experience, and I’m forever grateful for the opportunities she has given me.”

What has been the best part of your UMBC experience?

“The best part of my UMBC experience has been interacting, collaborating, and holding events with several student organizations, such as the Filipino American Student Association, the Vietnamese Student Association, Club Soccer, and my fraternity. UMBC, being as culturally diverse as it is, has given me the opportunity to look at life from different perspectives and have amazing experiences with great people. These organizations that I have been a part of have done big things for the community through their philanthropy events and finding great ways to raise awareness for real-world issues.”

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