Q&A with Jake Hollowell, Run Nerds Run! 5K founder

March 11, 2015

For the second year in a row, the University of New Mexico School of Engineering is sponsoring the Run Nerds Run! 5K and 1K race to raise funds for student scholarships.

This year's races will begin at 8 a.m. Saturday, April 4 on the UNM campus. Registration for the races, as well as for those interested in volunteering, is now open at https://runsignup.com/Race/NM/Albuquerque/RunNerdsRun5k1k

One of the race’s founders is Jake Hollowell, who received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from UNM in 2008 (UNM alumni Daniel Garcia, Brian Hesch, and Noel King are also race co-founders).

Jake now works for Vencore in Virginia, a company that does work for government agencies and large companies with a focus on systems engineering and integration, modeling and simulation, and enterprise information technology support.

Here’s what he has to say about Run Nerds Run! and its importance to students:

What is the purpose of Run Nerds Run?

The run is a fun way for us to raise money to create a new endowment called the Visionaries of Infinite Potential (VIP). By October 2015, we will finish raising the $25,000 needed to create this new endowment. This money will be managed by UNM and invested in the Consolidated Index Fund. Each year, the fund will grow in principal and will generate scholarships for undergraduate engineering students at UNM. It's a gift that keeps on giving.

Where did the idea come from?

The idea to create an endowment came from a very inspirational professor of mine named John Ackerman. Mr. Ackerman taught me economics and business ethics during my freshman year and he continues to be my mentor today. One day, when Mr. Ackerman and I were having a thought-provoking conversation, I mentioned to him that I planned to give some scholarship money to UNM. Mr. Ackerman stretched me to think bigger and explained to me how endowments work. He said, 'Why just give a few thousand dollars when you can create an endowment that generates thousands each year?' That's the day I planted the seed in my mind to create an endowment. The idea to create a run came from some brainstorming we did within our Visionaries of Infinite Potential (VIP) Master Mind Group, consisting of three UNM alumni (Daniel Garcia, Brian Hesch, and Noel King) and one friend of mine in Virginia named Erik Neal. This group was formed to discuss accomplishments and goals on a weekly call as a means to associate with positive, goal-oriented people. I asked our group if they would consider helping me create this endowment and soon they adopted the goal as their own. One night, we were discussing what activities or events would raise the most money for this endowment. We threw out ideas like a run, educational classes, and car washes. The run was the obvious winner!

Erik has never been on the UNM campus, but he gives 10 percent of his money to charity and is happy to help us with this cause. Daniel has directed much of our operations and marketing efforts for our first and second run. Brian designed our 5K and 1K routes, and his company (TWG Insurance and Financial) is a big supporter of our run. Noel is our second-highest individual donor to the endowment and is helping us promote and organize our second run on April 4.

Why do you feel passionate about helping students?

Each one of us is like a candle. We have life and energy to use at the discretion of our free will. If we choose to hold the light to ourselves, then the light remains the same level, but if we choose to light the candles of others, we increase the energy, warmth, and light of our surroundings. Helping others is to your benefit. It makes you feel better. It boosts your confidence and is the best method of success. As my mentor Troy McClain says, 'The best way to get ahead is to give.'

How were you helped by student scholarships while at UNM?

While studying at UNM, I remember stressing about money. When I received a $500 or $1,000 scholarship, my mind was put at ease and I was able to better focus on my studies. I remember reading the scholarship applications and wondering about the donors. These people were willing to give to the best qualified candidate as a way to give back, even though they knew nothing about me or the other students who applied. The donors just knew that what they were doing was right and it would help students with their academic dreams. I was inspired by the donors listed in the many scholarship applications I reviewed. While attending UNM, I made a decision to give back more scholarships than was given to me. When we finish raising the $25,000 for this endowment, I will have succeeded my initial goal by 10 times. Plant a good seed, nurture it, and it will grow. What seeds are you planting in your mind?

What are you goals with this year's run?

Our goals within this year's run are 150 runners and to raise $16,000. Last year we had 77 runners and raised about $3,500. But we need help to raise the $16,000. If each of the 150 runners raises $107, we will exceed our goal. Please consider donating today and asking 10 friends to donate with you. Go to https://www.unmfund.org/fund/visionaries-of-infinite-potential-vip-endowment/ to make a donation.