Postcards From A Postgraduate

Brother Jesse Greaves Explores the USA and the World

by Kathy Jonas
Indiana University, ‘78

Jesse, fifth from top right, with his Chapter back in 2015.

As an astronautical engineer, Jesse Greaves (RPI, ‘18) will be focused on the space above, but the last few years have given him the opportunity to appreciate the ground below.

Realizing he might not have a break for quite a long time, the recent graduate of Renssalaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in Troy, New York, embarked on a journey that would take him across the United States and Europe prior to classes starting at the University of Colorado, Boulder, where he is working on a Ph.D. Eventually he wants to work for a large space company and then become a professor.

In December, after completing a co-op at the MIT Laboratory in Lexington, Massachusetts, he flew out to Los Angeles to visit a friend who was working at a NASA jet propulsion lab, and they started a road trip across the United States. The two of them would later go on to backpack across Europe following graduation.

“I traveled some as a kid, but this was so much fun,” says Greaves. “Seeing new cultures and experiencing new landscapes are awe inspiring.”

As a collegiate brother, Greaves said he joined the fraternity in his sophomore year after leaving the lacrosse team. He says the team did not provide the exploration and variety he was looking for in college in order to expand his horizons. The fraternity provided those opportunities.

At Phi Kappa Theta, he became the Chapter’s scholarship chair and then served as Vice President of Operations, maintaining the house by waxing floors, painting and making sure the property was kept in good shape. “It was a stressful year of my life, but the house gave so much to me; I had to give back to the house.” Through a brother, he was able to apply for the internship at the Lincoln Lab.

“I fit in with Phi Kap because it was the friendliest, most personable place,” he says. “We support each other. No matter what anyone gets into, we have each other’s back.”

As someone who skied before he walked, Greaves, 23, enjoys hiking, ice climbing, white water rafting, rock climbing and photography, so travel was a natural thing for him.

A few of Jesse’s travel tips (he has a lot more):

  • Watch a sunset in Canyonlands National Park in Moab, Utah, which Greaves says is more impressive than the Grand Canyon with canyon after canyon after canyon created by the Colorado River. Sunset at Zion National Park in Utah is also gorgeous

  • Go to the WWII Museum in New Orleans

  • Drink real absinthe in Barcelona. The strong, licorice-tasting drink is sipped after putting cubes of sugar on a fork, squirting water on the sugar to dissolve it in the drink and partaking in the famous concoction as did Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso and Vincent van Gogh

  • Try to find the hidden architectural pieces in Prague, a city that Greaves found surprisingly vibrant and exciting

  • Listen to Mozart in a small church in Vienna

  • Go ahead and indulge in the pasta and pizza in Italy and Rome in particular. It’s a nice ubiquitous, inexpensive treat following a visit to the Vatican and the spectacular St. Peter’s Basilica, which he called the most awe-inspiring cathedral, with Barcelona’s La Sagrada Familia Basilica (slated to be finished in 2026 after 144 years in the making) the most artistic and impressive

  • Cliff diving in Naples on the Amalfi Coast. What better way to end a trip?

Main Image: Brother Jesse Greaves (RPI, ‘18) enjoying the view of Prague in the Czech Republic.