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Native American Cornell Student Excels in Math and Leadership

Native American Cornell University student stays active in Native American activities on and off campus.
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He is co-president of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society and the Native American Students at Cornell University, and he has already helped teach introductory physics as an Undergraduate Learning Assistant—he is Jake Swamp.

The Oneida Nation of Wisconsin member’s passion for mathematics began as a kindergartner. “I was already trying to figure out how to multiply without them really teaching it,” the junior told the university when he was chosen as a featured student.

He is a junior majoring in applied and engineering physics because he likes to work with his hands and enjoyed physics in high school.

“I like how it’s really sort of problem solving,” he told the university. “You start with a few basic ideas and you can find so much out with them.”

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Not only has he served as a learning assistant he also interned with Argonne National Lab. “I worked with meteorologists looking at energy going into and out of a prairie to see how agriculture affects microclimate. We both improved the methods of measuring and got a nice set of data.”

Jake lives in the Akwe:kon program house on the Cornell campus in Ithaca, New York. According to the Cornell University website it is the “first university residence of its knd in the country purposely built to celebrate American Indian heritage.” The residence is all-inclusive and houses students from a variety of backgrounds, after all, Akwe:kon does mean “all of us” in Mohawk.

About half the residents are Native American while the other half is from a diverse mix of cultures. “They are united by the desire to build a better future through awareness, leadership, and education,” states the website.

Jake not only lives in the program house, but has taken courses in American Indian studies and been on trips with the American Indian Program.

“It’s really important to me to stay connected to my Native heritage in whatever way I can, especially where my major isn’t really connected with it,” he told the university. “I want our voices to be heard and be seen throughout the community, so if I can help them in any way, I will.”