Photo of Jakob Kraft while in Rome, Italy

Jakob Kraft '17

Photo of Jakob Kraft '16 in Rome, Italy

  • Senior elementary education major from Swansea, Illinois

  • One of 200 students in Illinois to be named a Golden Apple Scholar

  • Studied abroad in Rome, Italy

by Stephanie (Coartney) Dulaney '10

Jakob Kraft ’17 has always been fascinated by different cultures, and thanks to McKendree’s extensive study abroad program, he’s able to incorporate a unique global perspective into his future career as an educator. His once-in-a-lifetime experience of studying in Rome, Italy, has given him not only lasting memories, but it has also shaped his view of himself as a teacher.

Jakob’s passion for travel started when he was still a high school student in 2011. He signed up to participate in a Global Connections and Exchange program and soon found himself living with a family in Zambia, Africa, as part of a three-week immersion experience. “I became friends with another student named Ceswa, who came to the U.S. and lived with my family while I stayed with his family,” said Jakob. “He is currently studying in Russia, and I was able to meet him again while I was in Rome. Our friendship is a perfect example of the importance of being a global citizen.”

When he came to McKendree, Jakob knew that continuing to learn firsthand about life in other countries was not only exciting, but it would also enhance his skills as an educator.


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“I developed close relationships with all of my education professors, and I’m amazed by the support and encouragement I constantly receive from them, especially when I decided to study abroad.”


Photo of Jakob Kraft in front of Eiffel tower in Paris, FranceHis semester in Rome gave him the opportunity to experience Italian culture, food, and language while taking classes that brought him face-to-face with Rome’s most impressive artistic and historic sites. Other European cities such as London, Paris, Prague, Berlin, Milan, and Florence were also on his itinerary, and his tours from local people gave him a blend of cultural perspectives he wouldn’t have found elsewhere. “My hope is that I will be able to pass on my firsthand experience of different cultures and histories to my future students and engage them in learning about these different cultures. Unfortunately, many of my students may not be able to afford to travel around the world; therefore, I have an obligation to share as many stories as I can with them.”

This thirst for knowledge and dedication to educating others is one of the reasons Jakob was named one of only 200 Golden Apple Scholars in the state of Illinois. The Chicago-based program seeks creative teachers to serve Illinois students in economically and educationally disadvantaged schools. Each summer, Jakob participates in a six-week long summer institute, where he gains valuable experience working with current teachers and their students. “I do everything from collaborating with teachers to working one-on-one or in small groups with students to leading an entire lesson,” he said.


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“The Golden Apple program, along with my McKendree professors, family, and friends, has helped me to become the best educator that I can be. I’m eternally grateful that I had the opportunity to study abroad as well, and I wouldn’t have be able to without McKendree.”

Learn more about McKendree University and the Education program.


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