Joseph Jackowski

University of Michigan | Biopsychology

Marine Corps | Fire Direction Controlman

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About Joseph:

Born and raised in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, I joined the Marine Corps in 2011, immediately after high school. I served the majority of my four-year enlistment as a Fire Direction Controlman, an artilleryman, with the 11th Marine Regiment in Camp Pendleton, California. I deployed with M Battery as part of an auxiliary force designed to bolster security in Bahrain.

During my time in, a series of personal challenges coalesced, dismantled my moral framework, and resulted in a years-long depression. I had questioned the meaning of life and the nature, and justification, of moral systems. Since leaving the Corps in 2015, I began reading heavily on the topic of meaning. All throughout my time at Harper College, in Palatine, Illinois, I explored the meaning-terrain. Leo Tolstoy, Viktor Frankl, Ernest Becker, Jordan Peterson, and several other prolific authors helped me fill in the corners of the meaning-map.

After graduating Magna Cum Laude from Harper College, I transferred to the University of Michigan to pursue my interest in the psychology of meaning. My current major is Biopsychology, Cognition, and Neuroscience, with a minor in Philosophy. In May 2020, I completed my honors thesis, “With Highest Honors,” which was on veterans, the use of generic language, and meaning-making.

Outside of academics, I’ve been the Community Involvement Chair, Secretary, and, now, the President of the Student Veterans of America, UM chapter. I am also a mentor in the Washtenaw County Veterans’ Treatment Court, mentoring veterans who have been in trouble with the law, with issues as serious as opioid addiction. I am also on the Campus Climate Advisory Council. Finally, in my free time, I am an Axe Master, teaching and supervising the throwing of axes at Axe Ventura, a local veteran-owned business.

I will graduate in December 2020 and will pursue a Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology, with the ultimate goal of fostering a sense of meaning in employees while continuing my research.


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