For Winona State University student Jacob Stock, “a community of learners improving our world” is much more than just a university mission statement, it’s a way of life.

As a Social Work major, Stock has consciously involved himself in campus and community programs that emphasize the value of serving others. He has volunteered as part of the WSU RE (Recognizing Equality) Initiative, served as a teaching assistant for an Introduction to Women’s and Gender Studies course, volunteered at the Winona Women’s Resource Center, and served on the board of Beyond Tough Guise, a Winona organization that seeks to engage the community in promoting healthy and respectful relationships.

“I have grown immensely through these valuable experiences,” Stock said. “They have educated me and sustained my passion for helping others to improve our community.”

Working with the RE Initiative has been particularly rewarding, said Stock. The program, which supports survivors of gender-based violence and works to create a campus and community culture of respect and responsibility, received the President’s Engaged Student Award in 2015 in recognition of members’ activism and dedication to the cause.

Currently, Stock is interning for Bridges Health Winona, a collaboration between WSU, Live Well Winona and Neighborhood Family Clinics (NFC). Bridges promotes a preventative healthcare approach to help individuals achieve a healthy lifestyle.

“Interning at Bridges has been a very enjoyable and educational experience,” said Stock. “I have had the great pleasure of working with a number of students from various health professions, and I have learned a great deal from them.”

Stock said he is continually inspired by the values inherent in the social work profession as well as by the communities and populations they serve.

“Social workers are called on to help meet basic human needs and to enhance human well-being,” said Stock. “We are instructed to pay special attention to those who are too often left behind or who are considered unimportant.”

Gaining a broader cultural awareness was also a goal for Stock as he prepared himself for a career in social work, so the Decorah, Iowa, native took the opportunity to study abroad in Mexico in the Spring of 2017.

“I learned so much about the people, culture and history of Mexico, as well as the relationship that Mexico and the U.S. share,” said Stock. “It has deepened my sense of myself in a broader world community and has strengthened my passion for working with people from various backgrounds.”

Stock credits the passionate faculty at WSU for instilling in him the value of servitude, and for equipping him and his peers with the knowledge and skills to make a positive impact on the world. In particular, Dr. Mary Jo Klinker of the Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Department was very influential to Stock.

“I have her to thank for the passion I have for making this world a more just place, as well as for shaping what that means,” Stock said. “I have been taught so many valuable lessons at WSU about what it means to live in service to others, and to me, that is what it means to carry on the education I have received here.”

Stock, who will receive his degree in Social Work in May 2018, believes that Winona State provides endless opportunities for students to explore their passions and find ways to embody the university’s mission.

“From a range of programs and quality faculty, to a beautiful campus and community, there are endless options that a person can choose from to get the experience they want,” said Stock. “With each passing semester, I have gained important knowledge and skills that continue to shape the way I look at the world and my understanding of the role I want to play in it.”