Panther profile: Squash player’s volunteering fueled by his backstory

This article is courtesy of the Middlebury College Sports Information Department.
MIDDLEBURY — Rising junior Jacob Ellen is a key contributor at the top of the lineup on the Middlebury College men’s squash team. A neuroscience major from New York City, Ellen has joined forces with a Middlebury classmate to advocate for a deeply personal cause.
Ellen recently sat down with the Middlebury Sports Information Department for a question-and-answer session about his background and some of this activities off the squash court.
Q: Tell me about the One Life Club for brain cancer research, for which you are co-president with Panther men’s soccer player Fazl Shaikh.
Fazl created the One Life organization in high school after one of his best friends, Jack Reyna, passed away from a brain tumor while in high school. I also had a brain tumor in high school and Fazl is one of my best friends at Middlebury. We decided to continue his club and start raising money for brain cancer research at Middlebury. One Life has raised over $40,000 for the Making Headway Foundation, which is an organization that provides support for patients’ families as well as providing money for brain cancer research. We raised over $2,000 this past spring, including events like a wristband sale.
The reason I decided to get involved with One Life was that I had a brain tumor during my freshman year of high school. The surgery took a lot out of me and I had to take a year or so away from squash. I started to regain a lot of my strength and started to play well again during my junior year. Fazl and I have taken on leadership roles in One Life that have taught us the ins and outs of effective fundraising.
Q: What are you doing this summer?
This summer I am working for a nonprofit called OurBrainBank, which is an app for glioblastoma (a type of brain tumor) patients to be able to report symptoms daily to track their condition and inform doctors about their progression. I am helping out analyzing all of the patient data coming out of the application.
Q: What brought you to Middlebury?
I chose to continue my education at Middlebury because some of my favorite weekends were when I visited my older sister Audrey, who is a 2017 graduate. She showed me around campus and I loved everyone I met at Middlebury, especially the squash team. Head coach Mark Lewis also solidified my decision to come here.
Q: What other activities are you active with here?
This past spring, I helped run the GrilleMe delivery service along with teammate Will Cembalest. GrilleMe is the campus delivery service at Middlebury that helps students to get food while studying or some fuel at other times. We learned a lot about the difficulties of running a business effectively and we made many mistakes along the way. Ultimately in the end, we grew from it and came out better in the end.
Q: What is your #MiddMoment?
My favorite moment happened this past year and was related to the One Life organization. We held a fun dance marathon that a large portion of the college attended. It felt amazing to see that so many Middlebury students cared about us and supported our cause.

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