Steph Jacoby: Academic and Athlete


Teammate, academic and friend — senior Steph Jacoby wears many different hats all at once. Jacoby is a chemistry concentrator from Downingtown, PA, a member of the Varsity Women’s Softball team at Colgate University and a Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) participant. 

As a student-athlete who came to Colgate mainly because of softball, she naturally feels like she owes her experiences on campus to the sport. Playing a Division I sport presents one with challenges that will help them grow all-around as a person, not just an athlete. 

“Softball has been really fundamental to my Colgate experience because of the people it has brought into my life. The connections throughout the athletic community and within my team have been endlessly rewarding and I’ve met so many different people with different backgrounds and have developed really great friendships. The memories on the softball field have been amazing and to experience them with my best friends is even better,” Jacoby reflected.

It’s not uncommon at Colgate for students to balance a grueling athletic schedule with an intense academic calendar. For Jacoby, the two commitments fighting for her time have been softball on the one hand and chemistry on the other. She’s traveled across the U.S. with her Varsity team for competitions, and for academic research opportunities and science conferences as well. In between her commitments, Jacoby loves a relaxing afternoon with her friends, grabbing food in New Hartford or Syracuse. That’s the real joy of Colgate for her — getting to spend time with close friends. 

“I think when you ask anyone about their favorite thing about Colgate, one of the first things they will say to you is ‘the people,’” Jacoby said. “Softball has introduced me to some of the best people I know. Beyond that, the people I have met through my classes and the small community of athletics, the chemistry department and Colgate, in general, have made the entire experience worth every second.”

Jacoby’s academic journey has been both rigorous and unique. She came into her first year thinking she wanted to study biochemistry and pursue medical research but opted for a chemistry research opportunity during the summer after her sophomore year. Everything clicked into place from there. 

“It was [doing research on campus] that led me to become a chemistry [concentrator]. I got involved with atmospheric chemistry research with my advisor Professor Anne Perring and I immediately knew it was the perfect way to combine my passion for the environment with my love of science,” Jacoby explained. “Last summer, I was able to go to South Korea with my advisor to work on a research project on black carbon in the atmosphere. That project evolved into my senior thesis and I’m currently wrapping that up now.”

This experience allowed Jacoby to meet academics doing atmospheric science research, which was fundamental in her decision to pursue graduate school after Colgate. Jacoby will be attending the University of Maryland next fall to pursue her doctorate degree in chemistry, with plans to eventually start researching at a national laboratory. 

“I’m really excited to enter the next phase of my life and for all the new experiences that will certainly come with it. Thinking about starting Colgate four years ago, I could have never predicted the opportunities I was lucky enough to have and I can’t wait to see what the next stage of my life holds for me,” Jacoby said. 

As for advice for a first-year student at Colgate, Jacoby said to pursue as many opportunities as you possibly can. 

“Colgate has so much to offer, and when I look back to the new things I tried, I almost always met a new friend, found a new path I want to pursue or go to travel to a new place,” Jacoby advocated. “Let your passion in life serve as your guide and you will find the people and opportunities that align with your goals and it will reward you in more ways than you can imagine.”