Non-traditional student excels at SFSC

AVON PARK - Jacob “Jake” Jordan does not fit the typical mold of an undergraduate student. Jordan has a complex life. He is 36 years old, works full-time running his business, Jlj Construction and Development Inc., is responsible for a family and is a full-time student in the honors program at South Florida State College. Originally from West Palm Beach, Jordan and his family moved to Highlands County to be close to his grandparents. He earned his high school diploma through SFSC’s General Education Development program in 1995 and then pursued what he thought would be his lifelong career, construction. Jordan’s decision to go to college was simple for him. “The construction business was going downhill and I was putting all my time and effort into my business without receiving anything tangible in return,” he said. “Finally, I was not willing to gamble anymore.” “My primary motivation to go back to college was to pursue a career that provided worthy income, benefits, and stability - what you don’t really get out of construction,” Jordan said.
“During my first semester of college, I was advised to take one class to see if I could handle being a student. Little did I know that I could handle and surpass my original expectations. My son and wife were even surprised at my success.” From there, Jordan made it a personal goal to take on a full load of classes and earn a 4.0 grade point average. “I think some traditional students have the skills, mentality, and time, but do not have the drive to excel,” he said. “My determination, maturity, and experience have been beneficial to my college involvement.” Jordan managed school, his family, and business by prioritizing. “Because there are only so many hours in a day, I had to create a flexible and inflexible schedule,” he said. “I’ve literally been on a job right before class and had to shake off the dust and clean myself up a little to look presentable.” Jordan will graduate summa cum laude from SFSC today and plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering. Only 12 undergraduate petroleum engineering programs exist in the United States. None are in Florida. Jordan will have to move out of state to get the degree he desires. When choosing a career, Jordan took six months to carefully research and examine the pros and cons of different industries. He didn’t want to go into a career that wasn’t moving forward. He has already been accepted to the University of Florida, University of Texas at Austin, Penn State, and University of Central Florida. His dream school is the University of Texas at Austin, which has the number one petroleum engineering program in the United States. However, he’s pursuing the university that offers him the best scholarships. Financial aid is crucial due to the increasing costs of out-of-state tuition, the need for living expenses, and what his family can afford to pay out of pocket. Ultimately, Jordan wants to earn a master’s degree in renewable energy. “This career path is rapidly expanding and futuristic,” he said. While pursuing his bachelor’s degree, he plans to do side work in construction to lessen his college expenses and to get involved with interning and shadowing people in his field as much as possible. During Jordan’s tenure at SFSC he has received numerous awards including academic excellence awards; president’s list; nominated for Phi Theta Kappa All USA-Coca Cola Scholarship; All-Florida Academic Team; Academic Excellence Award for TRIO; Outstanding Student Awards for chemistry, calculus 1-3, differential equations, and linear algebra; Honors Program graduate; and enhanced PTK member. Jordan has represented SFSC at the Florida Collegiate Honors Conference and at the Florida Leadership Conference on Faith and Values. In his spare time, Jordan is a volunteer tutor in SFSC’s Tutoring and Learning Center Math Lab and works in the Physics Department. “Not many people wake up at age 36 and think about a new direction in life,” Jordan said. “I figured if I can do it, I will do it. I’m a firm believer that you don’t know until you try. Make goals and don’t let anyone stop you. If you want it bad enough, you’ll see it through.”