Jake Lens

Jake Lens

Jake Lans ’16: Writing and Editing His Future in Publishing

“I love your magazine. Wait, you guys are undergraduates?”

As the two-year editor of the Santa Clara Review, Jake Lans points to this quote as his most memorable experience during his time at Santa Clara.

He and his fellow editorial board members were attending the annual Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) conference, the largest literary conference in North America, to sell and promote their magazine. As the crowds circulated the venue visiting booths, Jake and his colleagues saw their dedication and talent validated by every guest who expressed surprise that such a high-quality publication was created by undergrads.

Founded in 1869, the Review is one of the oldest literary publications in the Western U.S. Its continued publication and ability to turn heads aesthetically and stimulate thought verbally comes thanks to Santa Clara University’s commitment to the humanities, and the Review’s commitment to publishing only the highest quality material—content that echoes Santa Clara’s dedication to the pursuit of truth, honesty, and social responsibility within the literary arts.

Under Jake’s leadership, the Review has also launched a spinoff publication called The Owl, a nod to the previous title of the Review from its early days. When asked why he doubled his workload by taking on the editing of another publication, he says: “It was really about access. Because of our limited space in the biannual publication of our print magazine, we couldn’t provide a path for publication for many of our students who deserved to see their work recognized and shared.”

The Owl, in contrast to the two annual printings of the Review, is published on a multi-modal platform, which includes publication on their website, being featured in columns in the student newspaper, The Santa Clara, and being printed in a short “chapbook” at the end of the academic year. This student-centric magazine – dedicated to publishing fiction, poetry, art, academic essays, personal narratives, and stories – provides many more opportunities to the current writers and artists of the University.

English professor and mentor Kirk Glaser sees the creation of The Owl as Jake’s most outstanding project. “While the Santa Clara Review accepts student work, it primarily publishes writers from across the nation,” Glaser explains. “Talking with students, Jake learned that many felt discouraged from submitting their work. He also saw the need for a journal that would publish writing in more diverse formats – from videos and music to new media – in order to tap a greater diversity of student writing,” he adds.

With all the leadership and entrepreneurial skills and energy it takes to create a new venture, Jake planned and evangelized his way to making it a reality.

According to Glaser, “During Jake’s two years as editor, he has created a twenty-first century journal for the campus and leaves with clear plans for its growth, including hiring a student editor to oversee its publication, printing an annual version featuring selected work, and reaching out to other departments and programs on campus for submissions and support.”

Clearly, the creating of opportunities is a great motivation to Jake, and he is about to create more for himself. He is one of 70 students selected to the Columbia Publishing Course at the University of Oxford, an in-depth, four-week introduction to all aspects of book publishing, from evaluations of original manuscripts to the sales and marketing of finished products.

From there, he hopes to gain work experience in London or New York by starting at the bottom and working his way up to a satisfying career in publishing. His dream role would be to someday become an editor for The New Yorker, a publication he looks to as the beacon of quality for creative writers and the editors who help hone their work.

There is no doubt that Jake’s involvement with the Review has shaped his career goals. But his work with the editorial board has done more than that—it also transformed his college experience.

As a transplant from urban New York, Jake had a hard time adjusting as a first-year student. Although he purposely chose a college experience that would feel adventurous by being so far from home (both literally and metaphorically), he spent his first year feeling disconnected and a bit misunderstood. Getting involved with the Review changed everything—for that is where he found his purpose and a connection to classmates who shared his passion for the written word.

Those classmates are a big part of what he expects to miss after graduation. “The communal aspect of this campus – the casual openness – creates connections. The students I have met here are active in causes that matter to them. I have friends involved with the Divestment Campaign with Fossil Free SCU, Santa Clara Community Action Program (SCCAP)… all kinds of organizations. There is so much passion and drive to do things on campus,” Jake explains.

Another aspect of Santa Clara that Jake is reluctant to leave behind is the close relationship he has been afforded by small class sizes that allowed him to really get to know and be known by the faculty who have seen and developed his potential—faculty like Professor Glaser and fellow English professor Juan Velasco who talked to him about poetry in a way that inspired him and encouraged him to take on challenges that developed his confidence.

Jake will take that confidence along with the innumerable lessons he learned about writing and people as editor-in-chief to continue developing vehicles for people to share their thoughts and artistry.