Meet Jay Jadick, BFS Class of '14!


Jay Jadick, COL ’14, English & Cinema Studies

What was the last book you read? 

The Intelligent Gardener by Steve Solomon.

What was your involvement in the Benjamin Franklin Scholars program at Penn? 

I was a Benjamin Franklin Scholar. I enrolled in a seminar each year. In addition to that, I was a work study student at CURF where I assisted the BFS advisors in scheduling and other administrative tasks; I enjoyed getting to know the BFS advisors. Extracurricularly, I was not that involved.

What have you done since you graduated from Penn? 

I moved to New York City from Philadelphia. During that time I experimented with filmmaking and writing while maintaining full-time day jobs to support myself.

I co-directed the feature film Driving Not Knowing which premiered at Outfest LA and screened in various festivals across the US. I worked on several other film projects including Superamerica, Vagrant, and SquatchmoreSquatchmore recently won the Spirit Award at the 4th Midwest WeirdFest Film Festival in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. While in New York, I also played bass in the thrash punk band TREO ’09 and in 2018 I published Rising, a poetry book Stephen Ratcliffe deemed a “mind-made landscape of words and worlds”. To make a living, I worked as an art preparator at Alexander Gray Associates and then was the general management associate at Film Forum.

In 2019 I moved to Kansas City, Missouri to serve as the live-in apprentice at URBAVORE urban farm, a biologically diverse farmstead set on 13.5 acres in Kansas City's urban core. Since then I have gone on to spend a season at the KC Farm School at Gibbs Road as the farm crew lead. I am currently working on a novel, some poems, and an urban homestead in Kansas City, Kansas.

What are your professional goals for the future? 

I plan to continue studying regenerative agriculture and how to grow the most nutrient dense food in a sustainable way. That might lead to farming for a living or it might not—I’m open to that. Ultimately, I want to be able to grow food for myself and my community. Regardless of the place, I want to practice thoughtful stewardship of the land I inhabit. I plan to publish a novel based on my experiences urban farming and more poems.

How has the Benjamin Franklin Scholars program contributed to your personal, academic, and professional development? 

BFS encouraged me to take courses I might not normally enroll in. The course Photographic Thinking lead to me purchasing my first dslr camera. My advisor Linda Weidman inspired me to explore areas outside of my initial major (environmental studies) and was always there to help with rescheduling. I am indebted to her impressive understanding of Penn’s curriculum; she helped me get a good start as freshman.

The BFS program encourages self-study as well as interdisciplinary thinking; I see both of these as crucial to my current life as an artist and farmer.

What advice would you give to current Benjamin Franklin Scholars? 

This is what I would tell myself: gain skills and read voraciously. Develop an intellectual intuition. If it’s outside your major and you want to study it—study it anyway. But focus on how to sustainably follow your passions and maintain your health. I would place special importance on your health; this will guide everything else. Get to know the community you live in, learn about the watershed you live by, and understand your ecosystem— do this regardless if you’re in a city or in the country. If you’re split between two paths, take the ditch. And if you’re feeling stressed, go look at a tree. They’re always nearby.