I Am Elon with Jacob Hayward ’20

The double major in policy studies and sociology serves as the president of Elon Mock Trial, a mentor to local high school students and an avid researcher.

As he was preparing for his first year at Elon, Jacob Hayward ’20 read the university’s common reading selection, Bryan Stevenson’s “Just Mercy.” The book, which explores issues within the American criminal justice system, guided his Elon experience and led to a career path. It sparked an interest in inmate advocacy, so he chose to research partisanship and inmate health care for his Elon College Fellows research project. Three years later, Jacob is applying to law programs. He plans to work as an advocate for prisoners’ rights after he graduates as a double major in policy studies and sociology.

“I’m genuinely so excited to do research. My friends would call me intellectual and driven because I just love any type of learning,” Jacob says. Elon’s focus on undergraduate research, the Fellows Programs and close connections with faculty made Elon an easy choice for him. “As soon we got in the car after the campus tour, I knew. Then once I got my acceptance package, I immediately ran outside and put my new Elon sticker on the back window of my Accord.”

Jacob is the incoming president of Elon Mock Trial, an organization he’s been part of throughout his time at Elon. The group travels to compete against other schools and participates in a mock trial that focuses on a single case. He says his participation has sharpened many valuable skills like public speaking, improvisation and critical thinking.

Not only has Jacob thrived during his time at Elon, but his work with Elon Academy has helped others grow. This summer marks his third working as a summer mentor in the college access program for high school students in Alamance County. Along with being positive role models and classroom teaching assistants, summer mentors live in the same dorms as academy scholars, teaching them about living on campus and facilitating activities.

“The most rewarding part is watching the scholars go from not understanding college basics to having multiple scholarship offers. I’m not that much older than them and our lives are different, but I do know how to help someone when they need it. It’s about sharing more than telling, and we figure it out together.”

Jacob is Elon and one of the many stories that are part of our “I Am Elon” series.