Wisconsin School of Business alum Jake Wood (’05) spoke at the mid-year commencement on Dec. 18. At the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Wood majored in Real Estate and Urban Land Economics, and Political Science. He was also a linebacker on the Badgers football team.
Wood was a Marine for four years , serving in Iraq and Afghanistan as a platoon leader and scout-sniper, respectively. He has said his hero Pat Tillman, a professional football player who enlisted in the army and fought in Afghanistan, inspired him to join.
Team Rubicon, the non-profit he co-founded with two other veterans, two firefighters from Milwaukee, two doctors, and a Jesuit priest, brought Wood to national attention. Watching television coverage of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti after his military service inspired him to put the skills he learned in military service to use in disaster situations. Since its founding, Team Rubicon has responded to situations all over the world, including in Chile; Pakistan; South Sudan; Joplin, Mo.; and Mozambique. In 2012, Team Rubicon plans to begin operations in 10 U.S. geographic regions consisent with the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s.
Wood is also an active advocate for veterans’ issues.
In 2010, First Lady Michelle Obama made these remarks at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting: “One group of veterans even runs an organization called ‘Team Rubicon’ that responds to natural disasters. They trek into some of the most remote areas of the world to provide medical aid to thousands of people in need. The organization was founded after the earthquake in Haiti, when a former Marine named Jake Wood watched the devastation unfold on TV and he said to himself -- he said, ‘Jake, you’re not in the Marines anymore, but you have a special set of skills. You would be ashamed of yourself if you didn’t try and use them to help people.’”
On Oct. 13, Wood was featured as a Distinguished Lecture Series speaker. His topic was his time as “Badger Jake,” blogging about his life as a Marine combat veteran, and his work with Team Rubicon.
Wood was also a recipient of the 2011 Wisconsin Alumni Association’s Forward under 40 Award.
His other awards and recognition include winning GQ’s The Gentlemen’s Fund’s 2011 Better Man Better World Search.
“The decision [to go to Haiti] was the culmination of the lessons I learned while studying and living the Wisconsin Idea,” Wood said.
More information about Team Rubicon and its activities can be found at teamrubiconusa.org.
Below is a video played during halftime of a Badger football game, featuring Jake Wood.