Give Marquette

Marquette University Alumni Association

Opus College of Engineering Award Recipients

Young Alumnus of the Year Award

Jake StefanJAKE M. STEFAN, ENG '99
Marietta, Ga.

On any given day, Jake could be volunteering as a clown, fundraising or working as vice president of ARCO Design/Build, a national industrial construction firm. One thing ties it all together: Jake focuses on taking care of people.

Despite the recent economic downturn, Jake strengthened relationships with ARCO clients and helped colleagues expand their roles and move into leadership positions. Now, as the company expands, Jake is excited by the challenge of juggling new responsibilities while continuing to exceed customers’ expectations — all the while having fun along the way.

“I have been telling people for years the greatest thing I learned at Marquette is the ability to think critically,” he says. “My education consisted of problem-solving every day, regardless of the class.”  

As a company, ARCO works with several charities and service groups, from the Wounded Warriors to the Lupus Foundation to a local battered woman’s shelter, among others. In addition to being passionate about supporting Marquette, Jake annually volunteers with the Susan G. Komen 3-Day breast cancer walk in Atlanta. He participated in the 60-mile walk once and has worked as a crew member, doing everything from serving lunches to setting up the tents where the walkers sleep. He has twice been recognized as the top crew fundraiser and has raised more than $50,000 to end breast cancer during his eight years of service.

On the lighter side, Jake also loves clowning around in full regalia — with other members of “Atlanta’s Distinguished Clowns” — at an annual Christmas parade that benefits Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Also to support the hospital, ARCO sponsors road races, arts activities for CHOA children and golf fundraisers.

“It boils down to this,” Jake says, “Act as if somebody is always watching you, and do unto others as you would have done to you.”  

Fun Facts

Hometown: Chicago

Favorite book or favorite quote: “My favorite book is currently Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell. My favorite quote is ‘Winners find a way.’ ”

Dream dinner date: “I was recently in Philadelphia for a board of directors meeting and had the opportunity to visit the Thomas Jefferson museum. He was a philosopher, patriot, inventor, ambassador and family man who lived through an incredible time in the world. I think he would be really interesting to sit down and share a meal with.”

Marquette faculty or staff member who had an impact on you, and how: “There were a lot of Marquette family who impacted me, but I think the late Sue Michaelson (may she rest in peace) likely had the greatest impact. She helped show me the value of the co-op experience. Without her, I never would be where I am today. Not only did the co-op experience provide me with an education you could not reproduce in a classroom, but it got me my job at ARCO in Atlanta. During my last co-op term at OPUS, a project manager from ARCO was trying to recruit my boss at OPUS. He said no but recommended that the ARCO project manager talk to me because I was graduating. The rest is history.”

Favorite Marquette memories: “Wow, there are so many. There was the annual snowball fight on the AMU lawn on the day of the first snowfall. There were the long nights in the pit or the AMU “working.” There were those days I chose to play basketball with friends instead of going to a humanities class. There were the days I kept calling my now-wife Stephanie Rosenberger, Eng ’98, by the name of her roommate, Bethany, by mistake. In the end, I would say the best memories were of the basketball games (which coincidentally involved Stephanie). We went to every game and even built a “Wall of 3s” that was about 6 feet tall by 15 feet long that we took into all the home games one year and hoisted up along our entire row every time they hit a long-distance shot. We were on TV a lot with this wall and the crazy hats we would wear (not to mention the Jumbotron!). We also traveled to a fair amount of games. There were a lot of great times at those games.”

When you were in grade school, what did you want to be when you grew up, and why? “I wanted to be a vet because I thought it would have been great to take care of animals. Unfortunately, I determined that I did not like blood much and that went out the window pretty quickly.”

Marquette legacy: “At this point, I do not have a Marquette legacy, but Steph and I are certainly instilling a strong love for Marquette early in our kids. Our 7-year-old son Jack keeps asking if his grades are good enough to go to Marquette, so maybe it is working.”

Who has been the most influential person in your life, and why? “This is really hard to answer because there are so many people who have influenced my life so much. In the end, though, I was blessed to have two great parents who sculpted my life more than anyone else and who are responsible for who I am today. They together taught me so many valuable lessons. My dad taught me what it means to work hard, how to take responsibility for things and what it means to give someone your word. My mom taught me how to love, how to treat other people and how to stand up for what you want. Together, they taught me about family, the value of money, how a relationship works, how to do the right thing, how to be a parent and how to have a “discussion” vs. an argument even though it kind of looks like an argument. They are two special people who raised three incredibly different and individually successful boys, and they are why I am who I am.”