Jacob Sherman was the student speaker at PSU's 2012 June Commencement ceremony.
Jacob Sherman is graduating with a Master's of Science in Educational Leadership and Policy, with a specialization in Leadership for Sustainability Education. Mr. Sherman is a fifth generation Portlander, and he attributes much of his success to the support of others. As such, he would like to deeply thank his family, friends, and colleagues for their assistance throughout the years.
In his early twenties, Mr. Sherman spent almost three years incarcerated in federal prison for crimes that he committed as a passionate, but very misguided environmentalist. He used this time to reflect on himself and his place in the world. He was also stunned by the disproportionate percentage of men of color in prison, and their stories about how schools had failed many of them. Together, these insights helped Mr. Sherman understand how to work within systems to transform them, and how education can deny or provide many opportunities in life. Upon his release in 2006, Mr. Sherman immediately returned to college.
As an undergraduate student at Portland State, Mr. Sherman excelled in his studies and he mentored students as a Peer Mentor in the University Studies Program. At the same time, he also helped lead PSU's "Take Back the Tap" campaign, which promotes sustainability by educating students about the benefits of choosing tap water over the high costs of bottled water. Mr. Sherman was also named a Ronald E. McNair Scholar where he researched how students' perceptions of water influenced their water drinking behavior. He completed his Bachelor of Arts in English in 2010
Committed to a belief that education can indeed change the world, Mr. Sherman chose Portland State University for graduate school because of its commitment to sustainability. Mr. Sherman continued his work in the University Studies Program, where he had the unique opportunity to help transform the Peer Mentor Program. For his contributions to the workplace, Mr. Sherman received the 2010-2011 Portland State Student Employee of the Year Award, as well as the 2010-2011 Oregon Student Employee of the Year Award. Additionally, Mr. Sherman continued to work on PSU's "Take Back the Tap" campaign, which, to date, has helped install more than twenty water bottle refilling stations across the campus, while engaging senior administrators and thousands of students in making Portland State more sustainable.
After graduation, Mr. Sherman has accepted an offer to work at Portland State, where he will work with faculty and Peer Mentors to support undergraduate research and creative activities for sustainability as part of the University Studies curriculum. In the near future, he will consider whether or not to pursue doctoral studies, but Mr. Sherman plans to make this decision while he gardens and hikes with his wife and son.