Jared Giles Cocke lives in Berlin, Germany where he attends Humboldt University as a Ph.D. student. Upon completing the TAMS program in 2006, Cocke earned a B.S. in Chemical Engineering in 2010 from Rice University in Houston, Texas followed by a M.S. in Process, Energy, and Environmental Systems Engineering in 2013 from the Technical University of Berlin in Germany.
What brought you to the Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science (TAMS)?
I had essentially run out of math courses to take at my local high school, and the director of the University Interscholastic League (UIL)/Speech & Debate teams suggested I look into the program.
What did you enjoy most about TAMS?
Living at TAMS was the first opportunity I had to properly interact with people from all different backgrounds and with interests that overlapped with mine. Living (essentially) on my own and learning to take care of myself helped to set the stage for learning how to live my life independently and to shape my opinions of the world. I'm still best friends with one other person in my graduation class and I thank her for helping me to view everything in a new light.
How did your experience at the University of North Texas (UNT) and TAMS shape your career path?
TAMS did give me an opportunity to accelerate my studies, and I'm sure the people I interacted with helped to influence the choice I made about choosing a university to complete my bachelor studies. To be honest, I only realized a few years after TAMS that speeding through school isn't for everyone, and the pace at which I live my life now is a reflection of this experience.
What was the most valuable lesson – inside or outside the classroom – that you learned at UNT and TAMS?
I was extremely conservative and rather closed-minded when I first arrived at TAMS. A mixture of social awkwardness and interacting with all different kinds of people pushed me to check myself and reevaluate my place in society. The people I met at TAMS and the friendships that I extracted out of the experience have played major roles in making me the person I am today.
If you earned a bachelor’s degree, what did you do in the year immediately after graduation?
After completing all of the necessary coursework for my bachelor’s degree, I stayed enrolled at Rice University and took the opportunity to take an extra year to spend time "studying" abroad in Berlin, Germany. I've been living here since.
I've always been back and forth with my education. My coming to Berlin was a reflection of this. Although I was still technically enrolled at Rice, I saw my 'year abroad' in Berlin as an opportunity to explore my personality and to learn about different kinds of people in the world. I'm still constantly going back and forth with where I want my 'career path' to take me.
Please share a memorable moment or experience from your time at UNT and TAMS.
One of the most fond memories of my time at TAMS was a trip to Rice University for a math competition, where I become much closer to someone who I now consider one of my favorite people in the world. We bonded over a rather bizarre video game.
How would you describe UNT, TAMS, and Denton?
It's hard to describe events that took place over 10 years ago. I remember Denton as a nice college town with a decent mixture of affordable restaurants. TAMS was an excellent opportunity to get away from the monotony of suburban life and living on the UNT campus was my first real experience in the "adult world".
If you could go back and do it all again, would you still attend TAMS? What would you do differently, if anything, during your time as a student?
Definitely. I feel extremely lucky for the wonderful opportunity TAMS gave me to take on a completely new life path and to meet some unique, inspiring, and loving people I have so much respect for. These relationships I formed helped open my eyes to the potential that human beings have for being absolutely amazing.
What is your greatest professional accomplishment?
My proudest achievement is making it to the other side of the world and having survived here this long. I'm proud of the work I put into my education and the bonds I've created with the people I've met along the way.
What advice/insight do you have for TAMS alumni and students interested in your field?
You don't have to love what you do. Think about the repercussions on society that your work has and how that affects you on an emotional/psychological level. It's not about the money, the fame, or a piece of paper.