An atlas with its spine cracked open sits on the dashboard, the corners of its pages lifting slightly with every bump in the road. Outside the windows, the sky passes by in bright blue streaks. The day is perfect for a road trip.
Without using GPS or planning a route ahead of time, Jacob Donofry ‘22 drove from his home state of New Jersey to Maryland and North Carolina to visit his brother and some friends. Relying solely on his own navigational skills and sense of direction, he hit the road in his 2002 Subaru Outback.
“I’m constantly connected with my phone,” he says. “As a cybersecurity major, that’s cool, but it’s also distracting. I really wanted to detox from technology.”
The type of initiative required to set out on this trip displayed Donofry’s rare combination of adventurousness, intelligence, and thoughtfulness—characteristics that he carries with him to every challenge he sets himself.
A sophomore Honors student, Donofry balances a commitment to his academics with his role as a cadet in Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFROTC) Detachment 535 at Syracuse University. He completes multiple physical training, or PT, sessions a week in addition to attending leadership training and a class on aerospace studies. He hopes to commission as a cyberspace operations officer in 2022 in order to help defend and secure computer networks against foreign adversaries. When looking for colleges, Donofry knew he wanted to attend a Catholic school that offered an ROTC program either at the college or nearby. At Le Moyne, he found what he wanted and more.
Embodying the Jesuit value of magis, or more, Donofry not only pushes himself mentally and physically through ROTC, but also academically through the Integral Honors Program. As someone with a variety of scholarly interests, he appreciates the opportunity to explore topics in-depth and discuss what he’s studying with his peers.
Matthew Fee, Ph.D, lecturer and director of Le Moyne’s Integral Honors Program, finds that Donofry’s talent for forming connections between ideas positively influences how he interacts with those around him. “For Jacob, intellectual growth involves more than just reiterating ideas,” says Fee. “It’s about drawing connections between ideas and then using those connections as a way to build community. That, to me, is the real mark of an Honors student. Jacob is an incredibly agile thinker, and he engages with his community from a place of genuine interest.”
Donofry’s natural inclination to build connections with others transfers to his involvement in Campus Ministry, where he volunteers at various events such as Carolling on the Heights and Mass on the Grass. This semester, he recently became a sacristan. “Going into the Air Force, I know that having a close connection to my faith and coming from a school that instills Jesuit values will definitely help me to stay genuine and to care about who I am leading and what my mission is,” he says.
Just as he was unafraid to set out on a road trip without his phone to guide him, Donofry remains bold while he continues to navigate his own unique path in life.
“There are a lot of challenges that people are currently facing and that we, as a human population, will face,” he says. “I do not believe the answer is to back down and go into hiding. We need to work toward finding solutions in the hopes of building a better world.”