Jacob Storck

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April 9, 2014
Jacob Rent Musical

Jacob performing with the ensemble cast in RENT.

From the time that I was very young I always had a flair for the dramatic.

I remember acting out scenes from Disney movies and reciting the lines word-for-word.  My first play was a production of A Christmas Carol at my church when I was nine years old, and ever since then I have had an insatiable urge to be performing on stage.

But when I made the decision to become a Theatre Major at Dominican, I did not know the incredible impact that decision would have on my life and on my outlook on the world.  Reflecting on the past four years, I have learned so much more than just how to sing and how to act and how to create a realistic character onstage: I have learned that theatre can be an incredibly powerful tool in so many ways.

Through theatre we can educate people about various social issues, and bring light to the many social inequities in our world.  A perfect example of this is the musical RENT, which I had the pleasure of performing in my junior year here.  RENT deals with a group of people in the 90’s struggling against AIDS, housing discrimination, homophobia, and other such issues that are still so prevalent in our society.  RENT is just one of the many pieces of theatre that challenges us to think about how we can really participate in addressing these social issues, and it is a perfect example of the tremendous power that theatre can have.

Through theatre we can give people a creative outlet when they would otherwise not have access to one.  I believe that the arts should be an essential part of any curriculum in the primary school grades, but so often they are the first thing to be cut when there are budget restrictions.  It is such a special thing when we are able to share theatre with children and make it a part of their learning experience.

I have been lucky enough to be a part of two theatre productions at Dominican where we held "School-Bus Shows" so that children from local schools could come and view the performances during the school day, and then go back and discuss what they had learned.  These types of opportunities often inspire children to pursue theatre in their own lives, and give them a creative outlet with which to express themselves.

Through theatre we are able to build connections with each other, bridging the gap between people that come from all walks of life.  In my experiences participating in Dominican’s theatre program I have been able to meet and work with a wide variety of people from various backgrounds, and I have been exposed to an immensely perse community of inpiduals.  It is through all of these experiences that my love of theatre has grown, and through which I have gained a greater understand of the way that theatre can have a tremendously positive impact on the world.

February 28, 2014
Jacob Storck in Guatemala

I have always been the type of person who believes that life is exactly what you make of it. You can choose to stay right where you are or you can recognize that the world is an incredible place with so many exciting things to do and so many fascinating people to meet.

This academic year I have been lucky enough to do a great deal of travelling, nationally and internationally, and it has changed me in every way imaginable.

It started in October when I was able to travel to The Mound in Sinsinawa, Wisconsin for the first time. I had the opportunity to spend a weekend with an amazing group of friends and some Dominican Sisters. In these few short days I learned so much about myself, as well as the remarkable history of the Sinsinawa Dominicans.

Then in November I had the chance to take a pilgrimage down to Fort Benning, Georgia to participate in the protest against the School of the Americas, with some fellow social justice activists. This trip opened my eyes to the injustices in the world, and fueled my passion for social work.

In January I took the first plane ride of my life to San Lucas in Guatemala where I had the opportunity to stay at a mission and work with the native people. Finally, I am just about to depart on a trip to Haiti, where I will also be spending a week doing service work.

These experiences have all been remarkably different in many ways, but in a lot of ways they have also been very similar. Reflecting back, what was always the most wonderful aspect of each trip were the people that I met, and the interactions that I had with them: the stories that the Sisters shared with us at the Mound, the passionate people that I met in Georgia, the hardworking and loving individuals in Guatemala. They were all what made these some of the most enriching times of my life.

We can learn so much from other people, but it is almost impossible to do this without travelling and expanding our horizons. Everywhere we go in the world there is somebody new to meet and to learn from.

Dominican has provided me with countless opportunities to pursue my own passion for travel, and for that I am forever grateful.

One of my favorite quotes is from the movie Up and I think it really says it all: “Adventure is out there!” There will always be new places to go, and people to meet, and experiences to have. Adventure really is out there, but it is up to you to go and find it!

January 23, 2014

SOAR GroupGraduation.  At one point or other it becomes almost an idea rather than something that is actually going to happen in just a few months.  We spend so many years building up to it and finally one day we open our eyes and it is right on our doorstep. 

Countless hours of homework, evenings of tirelessly writing papers, and being involved in a million and one things on campus all lead up to one day.  One day that we have been waiting for our entire lives.

But what does it all really mean? Yes, it means that you get a piece of paper that testifies to the fact that you have earned a degree—and that is all wonderful.  But reflecting back on all that the past four years have held I am reminded of what that diploma really means.

It means that I have gotten to have more than 100 hours of experience working in classrooms and learning firsthand how to teach children of various ages and ability levels. 

It means that I have been able to perform in countless theatre productions, singing, dancing, acting, having a blast every night of rehearsal and feeling humbled and honored in the blinding lights of opening night. 

It means that I have been able to experience service learning, working with various organizations across the Chicagoland area, while learning from the beautiful people I encountered across the way. 

It means that I was able to spend the past two summers living on campus and helping to welcome the new freshman and transfer students into our Dominican community.

It means I was able to participate in multiple retreats through University Ministry, building my own relationship with God and with the people in my life.  It means I had numerous opportunities to build my own leadership style, and to grow in my own way as a leader.  It means that I had opportunities to study abroad, priceless opportunities that expanded my global awareness and motivated me to work for social justice. 

It means that I was able to work with all of the amazing faculty, staff, and administrators that Dominican has, and that I learned more from them than I ever have in my entire life. 

It means that I got to study voice for 3 ½ years with a professional opera singer and sing in numerous recitals and concerts, allowing my love and passion for music to grow.

It means that I got to form friendships with some of the most incredible people that I have ever known, and to create memories that will last me my entire life. 

It means that I now have a second family, a second home, a place that changed my life in every way imaginable.  Those are amazing possibilities. That is Dominican.

November 25, 2013

Jacob at Nazareth FarmThroughout my time at Dominican I have learned a great deal and I have been so blessed to have a variety of life-changing experiences.  But one of the things that I have really appreciated the most is the love and passion for service that is truly at the core of our Dominican values.  We can even see it clearly in the section of our Mission Statement that says, “To give compassionate service and to participate in the creation of a more just and humane world.” I believe that giving service is something that everybody should experience as it gives you a much broader view of the world, whether it be just in your own local community or in the larger global community.

In my opinion, Dominican does a wonderful job of providing students with a wide array of opportunities to engage in service projects.  Our Community-Based Learning office works with many agencies in the Chicago area to find ways for students to work with people in all different walks of life and to learn through experiences.  Students have the opportunity to do community-based learning as a part of courses they take and they may also elect to just do it on their own.  Besides this, the office also works to provide students a chance to study abroad in countries such as Guatemala and Haiti, working with the people of these countries in various capacities.  University Ministry also holds various Alternative Break Immersion (ABI) trips to various parts of the United States to participate in various service opportunities.

I have been fortunate to be able to participate in a variety of these service projects that are really such a strong part of what Dominican University stands for.  I have done Community-Based Learning through courses, where I have tutored in a middle school and helped out at a Jewish Rehabilitation Center for the elderly.  I have gone on an ABI trip through ministry to Nazareth Farm in West Virginia, where I met some wonderful people and helped to repair houses in a poor community for a week.  And this January I will be venturing to San Lucas Toliman Mission in Guatemala, where myself and the other members of the Dominican will work with the mission at experience a rich culture hands-on.  The fact of the matter is that I could talk about each of these individual opportunities in detail and write pages upon pages about them, but what is really important is the impact that they have had as a whole on me.  They have prompted me to take up various volunteer positions in the surrounding community, and brought to my attention all of the incredibly people that are out there.  They have also alerted me to the many social injustices in the world, and have pushed me to want to spend my life working alongside people who are also passionate about social change.

Without Dominican’s dedication to service and providing these community-based learning opportunities to students I would not be who I am today, and I would not have the drive to want to become a more informed, active global-citizen. 

October 23, 2013

Dominican University Students at the Sinsinawa MoundWhile many college students take their Fall Break as an opportunity to sleep in and maybe have a day of Netflix time (as I have admittedly done in the past), this year I decided to do something different.  I ventured with University Ministry to the Sinsinawa Mound in Wisconsin.  The Mound is the founding place of the Sinsinawa Dominicans, where the Dominican Sisters begin as well as end their journey.  When our group piled into the vans early on Friday morning, I had no idea the weekend that I was in for. 

Set among rolling hills and gorgeous fields, the first thing that I noticed about the Mound was that it is remarkable beautiful.  Having an innate attraction to the beauty and peace of nature, I felt an immediate sense of calm as soon as I stepped out of the van.  As the rush of cool air hit my face and I first looked around I could already feel that this was a place full of love.  That was proved to me almost immediately, as Sister Jeri Cashman greeted us with great energy and huge hugs.  Throughout the weekend, Sr. Jeri was always there to make sure we had everything that we needed, and to simply provide with countless amounts of love and laughter.  This abundance of hospitality was the case with all of the Dominican sisters that we had to chance to interact with during the weekend.  Every single sister that I spoke with had such a genuine and loving nature about her, and even if I had never met her before, she spoke as if she had always known me.  This was incredibly inspirational to me, and something that I hope to use more in my own life. 

Usually I would prefer not to wake up incredibly early, but both mornings at the Mound a group of us decided to wake up early to see the sunrise.  The first morning we climbed to the highest point of the Mound, and just stood together watching the sun come up through the trees.  It was pretty cold and we were all tired, so we didn’t speak much, but the feeling of standing together as a group in this beautiful holy place was something that I will never forget.  A few people started singing hymns and in that moment I felt remarkably close to God.  The next morning we also woke up early to see the sunrise, but this time in a spot where we would have a completely clear view of the horizon.  I have never seen a more beautiful sight.  The sky began to turn pink, then orange, and then suddenly it exploded with sunlight.  It was truly a breathtaking sight to behold. 

Throughout the weekend I was able to form some wonderful relationships with my fellow retreat participants.  That is probably my favorite thing about retreats in general—you can go in knowing absolutely nobody and come out with 10 new best friends.  Something about a retreat experience allows people to open up and to truly be themselves in a way that they may not feel comfortable doing in other circumstances.  These relationships that are formed are everlasting and are something that can never be forgotten.

I could go on for days and days about this experience, but unfortunately that is simply not possible.  All I can really say is: Go to the Mound. Do it. I promise you will not regret it for one minute.  

October 22, 2013

Students in the fall at Dominican UniversityThere is something so electric about a college campus coming alive at the beginning of a new academic year.  The hallways slowly start to fill up and you can really feel the energy of new students ready to begin their adventure, and old students refreshed and ready to go.

 As I was living and working on campus this summer as one of the STARS Leaders I had the opportunity to meet the many new freshman as they came in for orientation.  It was wonderful to see so many students excited about coming to Dominican with so much fresh energy and endless questions.  Leading them in various icebreakers and guiding them to different locations on campus I was reminded of myself and my own SOAR experience, something that seems so far away now.  I can recall vividly that I was absolutely terrified that I would not meet anybody, but at Dominican there is always somebody to meet, and some of the people I met at SOAR are still my close friends today. 

As the summer drew to a close I began to realize that Senior Year was finally upon me.  As I now walk around campus there is such a different feel from years past.  Old faces are gone and new faces are all around, something that I find extremely bittersweet but comforting.  As my own college experience begins to draw to a close I know that a whole new group is just beginning their own journey.  I know that long after I graduate, Dominican will always welcome new students who will have their own set of adventures at this amazing school.

So, as I begin a year full of meetings, rehearsals, classes, programs, lectures and countless hours of homework, I know that I will cherish every minute of it.  I know that the future is inevitable, but for the next eight months I will be enjoying every last second of my time here at good old Dominican.