As a high school football player who grew up in the backyard of the Pittsburg Steelers, Jacob Deemer was crushed when he didn’t make team captain. Feeling rejected, inferior and like he was anything but a good leader, he went to a trusted ally — his Grandpap — for advice. His grandfather was battling cancer at the time. But somehow, Deemer remembers, his parents found a way to keep Grandpap at their house during treatment. As elders tend to do, he gave his grandson a piece of advice, and a relationship, that would influence him for the rest of his life.
“He told me I’m a good facilitator, and sometimes that’s the most important part of leadership,” recalls Deemer, a nursing major and one of only nine students this year to earn the Distinguished Senior Leadership Award. On the football field as a high school student, in the classroom as the first person in his family to go to college, and on the intensive care unit as a nurse caring for the critically ill, facilitating and cultivating the best work out of those around him to accomplish a shared goal is a top characteristic of this natural-born leader.
Deemer had already enrolled at another college when he was recruited to play football at Capital. On the last day possible to apply to Capital, Deemer visited campus and knew immediately this was where he belonged. He applied that day and soon thereafter entered the nursing program. Given the demands of earning a Capital nursing degree, Deemer elected to focus completely on his academics and to put his leadership skills to work there instead of on the football team.
During his Capital career he has immersed himself in all areas of student life in the nursing program, from being active in student organizations and talking with prospective students to serving as a peer tutor for nearly all sophomore- and junior-level nursing courses. He currently works at Nationwide Children’s Hospital as a patient care assistant, where he inspires fellow students and patients, alike.
After graduation, he’ll enter a special fellowship program for ICU nurses and tour three Central Ohio hospitals to find the best fit. In two years, Deemer plans to go to graduate school to become a certified nurse anesthetist. That’s always been his professional goal.
“As a leader, it’s not about your power over others. It’s about your ability to empower others,” Deemer says. “In a hospital setting I get to work with patients who are really vulnerable, or at school I get to work with students who might be struggling. And I get to empower them to make a change in their life, or do something they didn’t think they could do — something that really matters to them. To me, that’s what it means to be a leader.”
Grandpap would agree.