Friends, family remember Jake Kosowsky


Claire Barnett

Spring at Vanderbilt. (Photo by Claire Barnett)

Campus Staff

Our Vanderbilt community unexpectedly lost Jacob Kosowsky, known as Jake by many, on Oct. 18. Jake studied Public Policy and Quantitative Methods, was a resident advisor and a member of Zeta Beta Tau. His interests spanned a wide range, including hiking, fishing and the outdoors in general.

His strong intellect and wisdom impacted his friends and family immensely. He will forever be remembered by his parents, Steve and Sharilyn, his sister, Mia, and everyone who had the honor to meet him. The impact he had on the campus community is vast, and his legacy will continue on in the people who knew him and his incredible spirit, passions and love for his friends and family.

Because the majority of the Hustler staff didn’t know Jake personally, we spoke to his friends, who devotedly shared their memories of Jake and how meaningful his friendship was to them.

Compiled below is an ongoing tribute to Jake Kosowsky. If you’d like to contribute, please send an email to the Campus Editor at [email protected].

Rob Tabachnik
It’s remarkable to see how one kid could have connected so meaningfully with so many different people. There was one point at the funeral and during the vigil at the ZBT house, where the crowd was asked “raise your hand if you consider yourself a best friend of Jake Kosowsky.” At each venue, nearly a hundred people all raised their hands. Just try to wrap your head around that. Being a best friend is a very unique position and the fact that he got that close, where someone could consider him their best friend and vice-versa, with that many people shows how in each chapter of his life, he spent a considerable and a unique amount of time really seeking value in others, kind of exuding that value, using his talents, his strengths, his skills, his kind heart, to really bring out the best in people.

When I went back for the funeral, I spent a lot of time trying to get to know his friends, know his family. I felt that the best way I could connect with Jake was by connecting with the people he was closest to in this world, in life and in blood. I was talking a lot with his dad, Steve, and his mom, Sharilyn. Sharilyn shared a couple of anecdotes with me about his time this semester spent in Boca. They took this art class on Saturdays and it was filled primarily with elderly folk, because it’s, you know, Boca. The first day they started class, they went around and talked about what their purpose was in that class and what they wanted to get out of it. Old people were kind of just passing the time, but Sharilyn was there to champion the arts and learn something new and develop her skill set. Jake was literally just there to spend more time with his mom. That shows, in how he interacted with close friends, even on campus. A close friend of ours, Tess Phillips, spends a lot of time in the art department and would remember working on some project on the wheel, and Jake would be right alongside her playing with clay, just spending good time in the company of others.

He always found a way to throw caution to the wind, but still stay risk-averse. In a world of contradictions, I don’t know how the hell he mastered that. He was a kid that always had so much going on in his head and he kept so much of it in there, but he never really made that known to people. He’d be vehemently deep in thought, battling something out. Most of the time we spent together was bonding into the late hours of the night, just kind of like working, spending time in silence, talking about deep topics, our abstract worries, and concerns.

Jake focused a lot of his energy on the unique, the interesting, the absurd. The shit that kind of made you just stop. He was a world record holder, he was a fierce man who definitely comes from an unorthodox family. They’re lovely, lovely people. Mia and Jake grew up in a household where everyone was each other’s best friends. You can really see it in the way Mia interacts with her peers on campus and how welcoming Steve and Sharilyn were on Friday and Saturday. My thoughts are with them as they continue trying to process and cope and come to grips with the reality of grief. I’m still very much thrown into that process, but the best things we can do at the moment are to just rally around the people that he held closest to him. Jake connected me to so many other close friends of mine that had I not met him, I could have missed out on some of the most formative experiences of my life. It is important to feel like you’re not going through this alone. I’m still wrapping my head around his early departure, it still seems as though he’s in Boca right now. Diving to spear a fish to beat his own record. He lived a wonderful life, wise beyond his years and he left us with a lot to think about. I’m going to miss him sorely.

Tucker Scott
Getting down to a core part of what made him an incredibly special human being is the manner in which he attacked life. Around 99% of the time I’m a pretty laid back person and will just kind of go with the flow. Jake was the same. We spent so much time pondering deep topics, relaxing and listening to music. He was also one of the most driven people I have ever met. That drive to meet new people, to go find beautiful things in nature and in art, to do great things is what I think a lot of his impact came from. It was really cool to go to the ZBT event last Monday because there were all of these different stories and memories, but most of them weren’t like ‘Oh I watched Jake do this really cool, big presentation’ or ‘I watched him do this thing where he was the center of attention’. Rather, they were all very unique, personal connections that he had with all of these different people. He cared a lot less about superficial things and focused on what really mattered to so many different people. I think we can all learn from the way that he approached life, I know I can.

Jake’s legacy has to be seen in the impact that he had on other people, whether in the thoughts that he introduced them to or an artist or musician that he turned them onto. We were both public policy majors, but had very different takes on politics. I grew up in a pretty conservative bubble in a suburb community, but within a liberal household. I’d gotten some political nuance through that, but I’d never experienced a intelligent libertarian standpoint on policy until I met Jake. He worked for the Gary Johnson campaign in 2016 and was incredibly knowledgeable about politics and policy. He informed what I researched into and we both impacted each others’ worldviews in profound ways. Just limiting it to politics, policy and ideology is… that was just a small facet of our friendship. I’ve shared so much music with him and gone to so many shows with him. We both loved the outdoors and nature. I’m close with so many of his friends from home because he had a way of bringing people together. I wish I had more time with him. He was my best friend and I will miss him for as long as I live.

Seb Lim
In the year I knew him, he became one of my closest friends and a person who I constantly would look up to. I think what made Kosowsky so relatable was his ability to just listen. You could tell that he might be dealing with his own issues, he might be going through a tough time, but he would never push those issues on you or stop you from talking about your own issues. He would try and help and give you advice. I remember during one hangout I told him that he was a mender of broken souls and that he would just offer up a place for people to go and try and figure out what was weighing on their minds, whether that be something as simple as failing a test or deep as not knowing what to do with their lives. He always seemed to have a response or at least a lending ear.

I related a lot to Kosowsky through gambling. For better or for worse, we played a ton of poker. He would never mention it, but he won a ton. I think he was the only person who I’d met that really gambled and come out on top. Especially with cryptocurrencies and bitcoin. It was never really the fact that we didn’t care about money that led us to gamble, it was more the freeing aspect and the correlation that playing a simple game like poker with defined rules was a smaller simulation for the chaotic time that we were feeling at Vanderbilt and life in general, and it was just an escape for us. Because in a lot of ways we knew that nothing would ever be sure or positive and that there’s so many hectic parts of the world that you can’t control. So I think I learned so much from him and he always did seem to in a lot of ways rise above the chaos that was the world. Whether or not that makes too much sense. He was a person who had been through the most. I think he in a lot of ways represented a old wise man to me. It’s tough to imagine that he’s passed away, but in so many ways I think that the lessons he taught me a lifestyle that I lived through him and in a lot of ways accounts for these freak accidents and chaotic things that occur in the world. He just taught me so much.

Max Schneider
Jake was in the truest sense one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. I genuinely would be hard pressed to find somebody who didn’t just naturally like him for who he was. He was always somebody who I always had great respect for. I think a lot of that came from his ability to relate to others and to let them know he was there for them. He made everyone feel like they were his best friend, and he would drop anything just to be there for anybody at any time. I remember blowing off all our work one night to go play darts with him at The Villager, spending most of the night playing and talking to random people and loving every second of it. I remember going camping with him in the middle of a random campsite that we hadn’t reserved. Mostly, though, I remember the late poker nights, where Seb, Jake, and I would stay up until two in the morning just playing hand after hand because none of us really wanted to go to sleep. Of course he took my money almost every time, and it always impressed me how good he was. It was nice to have one more of those moments just a few weekends ago when he came to visit.

Jake was just one of those kids. He excelled in everything he did. Poker, debate, spearfishing, you name it. He was talented, but he was also brilliant. I spend a lot of time arguing with a lot of people, but I never really argued with Jake. I just kind of trusted everything he told me. I deferred to his deep level of knowledge about seemingly every single subject, and I had so much respect for his opinions and his outlook on life. He was always the smartest person in the room, but he would never let you know it by the way he carried himself. There aren’t really words to say what our friendship meant to me and so many of our brothers, but we always think of him. We have bracelets that we wear every day for him. He truly cared about his brothers, his friends, and his family, and it showed. He was just such a positive spirit. Even though he’s gone, we take that positivity from him and that’s part of how he lives on.