Julian Jacklin '25
Julian Jacklin '25

Coding, Cow-Print Tablecloths, and Community at Reed

Discover how Reed’s welcoming campus helped Julian Jacklin, a first-generation student, thrive in his major and work to create an equitable community.

October 6, 2023

Attending college across the country is a huge endeavor for any first-year student. But Julian Jacklin ‘25 is also a first-generation college student who had never ventured far from his home in New York City except to visit family in Puerto Rico. But after hearing student stories and experiencing Reed’s campus firsthand, Julian knew he had discovered the perfect environment to nurture his personal and academic growth. 

“I knew that there were tons of rigorous institutions and challenging places that I could do great in, but I wanted to know that I would be enabled by the community and in the community—and Reed seemed to fit that,” he said. “Not only could I come here and do what I want, but there are going to be other people like me doing something that's out of the ordinary and learning something for the sake of learning it. Reed just had that aura, so that’s where I wanted to go.”

Studying More than Mathematics

Embracing his passion for logic and computing, which first ignited during a high school after-school coding program, Julian has flourished as a mathematics major at Reed. Julian also enjoys that Reed encourages students to take classes in other departments to help them think outside of traditional academic boundaries. 

“With Reed’s course distribution requirements, you can really have a beautiful diffusion of insight and experience,” Julian explained. “For example, for my senior thesis, I plan on doing some sort of political science-mathematics thesis without formally having a double major.”

Pursuing Equitable Environments

Not only is Reed preparing Julian for his future career, but it is instilling in him a drive to create a more inclusive world. He’s enrolled in courses like Privacy and Fairness to study anti-bias algorithms, and outside the classroom, his friendships with diverse peers shape his view of the world. 

“Reed has prepared me to take a more equity-minded approach to entering the tech industry,” he said. “Am I just going to keep an oppressive system alive? Or am I going to actually try to work within the system to change it for more people?”

In fact, Julian has combined his love for technology and his vision for creating a just world by joining the Reed College Science Outreach program, in which Reedies volunteer at local elementary schools to teach climate science, chemistry, and more. 

“I noticed there was a really big gap in terms of math and computer science because those fields historically just have not been taught to a younger age group,” he recalled. “So I piloted a computer science and math program over the summer, and now I run the science outreach as the computer science and math lead.”

Julian also brings his equity mindset to the Reed admission office, where he works as a general admissions intern. He wants to help make the college process more accessible for other first-generation and minority students. 

“A lot of selective schools are predominantly white institutions, and so you might have that internal feeling that you can't sort of be in a place like this and that this is a real uphill battle,” he explained. “In reality, a lot of these communities are looking for the best students, and you shouldn't count yourself out of that. And so I like having those conversations with people.”

Creating a Community at Reed

Julian himself has found plenty of opportunities to be a part of Reed’s vibrant campus life and even leave his own mark. For example, he’s now part of the great tradition of food-based student clubs, which have included Cheese Club and Bread Club. 

The summer before his sophomore year, Julian was having lunch with fellow housing advisers when they started talking about the different types of milk people drink. Soon people joked about creating a milk club at Reed. But they ran with the idea, and the student organization Milk Fiends and Dairy Queen was born. 

“At our student engagement fair, we had a cow-print tablecloth,” he recalled. “We had hemp milk, cashew milk, and goat milk, and people spun a wheel to see what they got. And people saw our club and immediately said, ‘This is amazing . . . I really want to be a part of it.’”

Reed’s welcoming and communal environment allows people to form groups based on shared jokes and late-night inspirations. Julian said he appreciates that you don’t have to be a part of a varsity football team or an elite academic club to find community. 

“At my high school, that milk club idea would have sort of died at the table, but that doesn't happen at Reed,” he explained. “People will continue going with it because it's worthwhile, and it makes people smile. Reed embodies the intrinsic joy that makes you smile by the simple fact that no one is shaming you for anything.”

And that’s why Julian loves it here. The supportive atmosphere allows people to try new ideas, improve the status quo, and shake off any failures both inside and outside the classroom. Students know their friends and faculty will support them and encourage them to try again.

“Reed has a community where people are able to and are doing things because they genuinely think it will help. And they're applying the most rigorous practice towards it, whether they're doing biology, linguistics, mathematics, or physics,” Julian said. “They're really applying the best of their efforts, and the professors are supporting them in this and applying the best of their efforts.”

Thinking Beyond Reed

After Julian graduates, he is eager to apply his mathematics knowledge and welcoming ethos to make a meaningful impact in the world.

“After Reed, I'm going to try and create communities, whether at work or in my personal life, that take inspiration from the people and the experiences that I've had here and the connections that I've made.”

Tags: Students