Headid wins first Franco Fund Scholarship

Jake Headid
Jake Headid

Jake Headid, who graduated in May with a studio art degree with an emphasis in graphic design from the School of Art, Art History & Design, won the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s first Franco Fund Scholarship.

In recognition of Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Juan Franco’s final year, the Character Council created this new $1,000 Franco Fund Scholarship, which will be awarded annually to outstanding students of integrity who have given their time to philanthropic organizations.

In November 2016, Headid was one of 30 students named to “Franco’s List,” which recognizes students identified as demonstrating the positive characteristics that are part of being a person of integrity.

“I was surprised really,” Headid said. “[Assistant Professor of Graphic Design] Colleen Syron has done so many amazing things for me, so I wasn’t surprised she nominated me, but I was surprised to learn that I won it—just surprised and stoked.”

Syron said Headid was an easy choice to nominate for the honor.

“When asked to nominate one student who best represented the ‘UNL Face of Integrity,’ Jake Headid immediately came to mind,” she said. “It did not surprise me that the Character Council selected him as the first-ever Franco Scholarship. Jake is one of the most courageous students I’ve ever met. I’m honored to call him a former student and a friend.”

An avid skateboarder since he was eight years old, Headid committed himself to The Bay in Lincoln, an indoor skatepark and community, which organizes Skate for Change. Skate for Change combines skateboarding and outreach.

“We deliver hygiene products to homeless people downtown,” Headid said. “Essentially, we just skate around and hook up homeless people with things that they could actually use and kind of spread positive energy and words to them and let them know that people are still there for them in the community.”

Originally from Elkhorn, Headid transferred to Fremont while in high school, where he has always been active in the skateboarding community.

“Fremont is not very big, and our community of skateboarders is very close knit,” he said. “And so I guess I was just kind of looking for that family sense of skateboarding here in Lincoln. And yeah, if you can show people that skateboarders aren’t what people think they are and if that means I’m going to go deliver stuff to homeless people, then I’m going to go help homeless people out.”

Headid has also been involved with AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Artists) Students in Design group, where he served as treasurer.

“The biggest thing you need as a graphic designer is a solid networking circle in the design community,” Headid said. “So with AIGA at UNL, we try to have professionals come in and talk about their work and their career and how being a part of AIGA has helped them with their career. We have portfolio reviews and give resume tips and tricks. Really, we’re just trying to get the younger kids more involved with the design community in Nebraska.”

During his junior year, Headid suffered a setback when he was diagnosed with cancer.

“I’ve had two scans post-operation, and they both came back as we had hoped,” he said. “I caught my cancer early. I have another scan in August, but things are looking good, and the medication is working properly.”

He received funding from the Student Emergency Fund, supported by the Hixson-Lied Endowment, which helped him out during his illness.

“That is probably one of the greatest things that this College can offer,” he said. “Having to balance my rent and my N card bill alone is a lot when I only work for the school. So I was only working 15 hours in the digital lab, and then getting all these medical bills. Before they could determine it was cancer, it was drawing blood and ultrasounds every month. That adds up fast. So the money helped tremendously.”

Following graduation in May, Headid will be working for the non-profit called I am Second, where he will be participating in the Vans Warped Tour that begins June 16 in Seattle and travels across the country before ending Aug. 6 in Pomona, California.

“It’s eight weeks of non-stop driving and touring,” Headid said. “I’m working with kids in this music industry, who a lot of times struggle with anxiety and depression. Just that kind of life, in general, and our music scene is often seen as something demonic or a lot of times, you can fall into bad things. But I’m there to tell me story.”

He’ll be able to share the story of his cancer diagnosis and overcoming it.

“I had cancer as a junior in college, and that kind of set me back a lot,” he said. “But it also taught me a lot of things about growing up, so I’m there to tell them my story and give them hope, and let them know there’s people there for them no matter what.”

He hopes it turns into something more.

“With my video experience for where I worked last summer, I’ll be shooting B-roll and interviews with the bands,” Headid said. “And they are looking to expand their creative team, so they’re currently looking over my stuff.”

Last summer, Headid worked with Syron on a video project in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

“I shot video for drug and behavioral intervention programs for Native American communities. We traveled through six different reservations in the area,” he said. “It was incredible. I have a lot of respect for the Native American culture, and it was really interesting getting to hear so many different types of stories.”

He likes the social justice angle of design.

“As a designer in school, I loved all the opportunities we had to utilize those projects to make something for the greater good because that really is an important aspect of design now,” he said. “A lot of people think we’re advertisers and marketers, but we really have to use our communication powers for something good, so I’m glad there’s a strong focus on that here at UNL.”

He’s enjoyed his experience in the School of Art, Art History & Design.

“It’s been crazy, in a good way,” he said. “I’ve done some things that a lot of people suggest you don’t do. In terms of being an art student, I’ve taken too many studio classes at a time and too many credits at a time and just given myself too much work. But in the end, it really is worth it. But in the end, it really is worth it, and keeping myself entirely busy with work is probably one of the better things I could have done for myself in college. It’s been a good experience.”

More details at: http://arts.unl.edu/art/news/headid-wins-first-franco-fund-scholarship