Data, Passion and Creativity

jake beley

Jake Beley ’18

As a high-schooler, Jake Beley ’18 was a top student who qualified for the Pennsylvania state swimming championship. At Dickinson, he continues to excel in class and in varsity athletics. His dual passion for art and math led him to a major in computer science, one that draws on both his technical prowess and his love of creative problem-solving. He also enjoys swimming, exploring the great outdoors and using his computer skills to help protect the quality of local waterways.


Computer science.

Clubs and organizations:

Varsity swimming, Wilderness Introduction to Life at Dickinson (WILD) and Alliance for Aquatic Resource Monitoring (ALLARM).


John Montgomery Scholarship, Walter E. Beach ’56 Scholarship, Dean’s List and Alpha Lambda Delta.

Favorite book:

Looking for Alaska by John Green.

Favorite movie:

The Prestige.

On choosing a major:

In high school I always enjoyed my math and art classes. Math allowed me to connect to my technical side, while art allowed for my will of creation to be expressed. Computer science combines these interests by being a discipline that pushes creative problem solving. Computer science provides enormous power by allowing large sums of data to be analyzed in nanoseconds and then reconfigured for productive use. It is this limitless power of computer science that excites me every time I talk about it.

As a kid I wanted to be …

… a paleontologist. I would draw pictures of me in an enormous sunhat, digging up dinosaur bones.

Favorite class/educational experience:

An essay question in my First-Year Seminar: “Should spirituality be incorporated into the environmental movement?” I was always interested in the environment and water conservation, but I never really thought about it in terms of spirituality. It was challenging and rewarding to craft an essay for a general audience on a topic that many people do not give much thought to. It is my favorite essay so far.

On choosing Dickinson:

I had no idea what I wanted for college, so I applied to all kinds of schools: big, small, medium, with swimming programs, without swimming programs, etc. If not for a letter from [Head Swimming] Coach Paul Richards, I would not have even applied to Dickinson, because I didn’t know about the school. But once I visited, [I realized] it was the first school where I felt comfortable. Because of Dickinson’s liberal-arts education, I’m able to pursue my numerous academic interests. That, combined with Dickinson's very welcoming faculty and administrators, helped me realize that Dickinson was the place for me.

Favorite place on campus:

Under a tree in a red chair, between Allison and Morgan halls.

Favorite Dining Hall food:

Baked oatmeal in the KOVE.

Favorite professor:

[Associate] Professor [of Computer Science Grant] Braught is so dedicated to helping each student. He squeezes every second of his schedule to aid students by answering questions, offering feedback and advising. He provides fantastic constructive comments, too, that really push me to re-examine the material and my thought processes.

About my internship:

Beginning last school year, I started working with the Alliance for Aquatic Resource Monitoring (ALLARM). I was involved with a similar organization, Creek Connections, in high school and ALLARM seemed to be a perfect fit. My goal has always been to get involved with the environmental department while at Dickinson, even if my major did not match up directly with it. ALLARM provided me the opportunity to still pursue my interest in the environment while also exposing me to practical scenarios of computer science in the environmental field.

What I learned:

My work so far with ALLARM has taught me the importance of communication and about the functioning of a nonprofit. Being able to take part in a wide range of activities—from educational outreach programs to the management of ALLARM’s Shale Gas water quality database—has taught me the importance of being a quick learner and taking the initiative to become involved in new opportunities. My time at ALLARM has allowed me to truly understand the power of citizen science and communities.

Proudest accomplishment (so far):

Finally mastering speaking the English language, after years and years of speech therapy. Never underestimate the power of speaking.

In a perfect world …

… everyone would realize there is worth in, and growth from, failure.

Learn more

Published August 16, 2016