Student Spotlight


Erika Ward

 Jake Correa, a senior at Western Illinois University, rediscovered a love for physics after exploring a variety of other career paths.

 “I was looking to go into history because those were the kind of people that I was inspired by,” Correa said.  “I just liked the idea that history is just a story. If you can tell a story well, it’s the most engrossing thing in the world. I thought it would be great to not only learn more about it, but be able to teach it.”

 Correa changed his mind after deciding that his future would be limited as a history major.  He then pondered pursuing a degree in computer programming.

 “I liked the idea that I could sit behind a computer and make something,” Correa said. “I could have complete control over it.  I could understand how it worked inside and out.  I could do whatever I wanted with it.”

 Correa ultimately decided not to pursue computer programming, and began exploring different ideas for his future before rekindling his love for physics, even after not doing well in a physics class at the high school in his hometown of Sycamore.

 “I took (physics) in high school, and I bombed the class,” Correa said.  “I just didn’t do any of the labs.  I signed up for advanced physics the next year and my advisor told me that he thought I made a mistake because I signed up. 

 “He asked if I thought I would pass it, and I said ‘Maybe, maybe not,’” Correa said.  “He asked why I wanted to take it, and I told him that the stuff they learned in there was pretty cool.  He took me out of it and put me in a study hall.  I guess my way of getting back at them was to take physics in college, and it was everything I was looking for.”

 Correa said he rediscovered why he loved physics after taking a few classes in college.

 “It was the history and the understanding,” Correa said.  “It’s the understanding of how to break down everything.  It’s not just a computer; it’s the universe.  I can look around and explain absolutely anything.”

 Correa did not attend Western for all four years, however, he transferred to Western after attending Kishwaukee Community College, which was about 10 minutes from where he lived.

 “I chose Western because it was a small campus in the middle of nowhere,” Correa said.  “I thought that would be good, no distractions. It was one of the cheaper choices.”

 According to Correa, he wants to become a physics professor at a community college after graduating.

 “Originally I wanted to teach high school,” Correa said. “It was going to take less time to get my Masters’ and be able to teach community college, which is honestly what I would be wanting to do.  It’s at the level where if you’re in it, it’s because you want to be there.”

 In addition, Correa is very active in the Sigma Chi fraternity on campus. 

 “We get involved in philanthropies and try to help out with things on campus,” Correa said.  “Mostly, what I do with it, is I use it as an outlet to help myself grow and help others to grow.”

 Correa referred to a quote from a Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED) Talk when describing Sigma Chi. 

 “It’s by Jim Rohn,” Correa said. “He said ‘You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.’ I think that’s a really good explanation of it.  It’s why I joined Sigma Chi in the first place.”

 Correa said that before being persuaded to visit Sigma Chi by a friend, he had no interest in Greek life.

 “There was one guy, standing in a corner and looking at a composite and talking about the different guys on it,” Correa said.  “I thought it was cool that they had the connection and still talk.  He started explaining what the pledge process was like.”

 Correa went on to explain that the people he met in Sigma Chi displayed the qualities that he values in friendship.

 “We use the Jordan Standard to evaluate ourselves and other people and grow,” Correa said.  “It’s all about trying to live a principled life and reach these ideals.”

 Correa said that his favorite place on campus is Currens Hall.

 “You’ve got the physical science library, which is small and not many people go to so you’ve always got that small place to hide away in,” Correa said.  “You’ve got people who are just extremely excited to be doing what they do.  The upper floors you’ve got labs going on constantly, professors who are dying to explain what they’re talking about.”

 Correa also said that professors work to spark interest in students.

 “We have professors who will just sit in the library and talk to you about whatever you’re working on and try to get you excited,” Correa said.  “It’s a great place to learn and grow.”