When Jake Ambuehl was growing up in Alpine, a Utah County city about 114 miles from Logan, he had never heard of Utah State University.
Ambuehl “didn’t even know it was a school” until his junior year at Lone Peak High School when one of his football teammates told the team he had a brother who played for USU.
Ambuehl eventually chose USU because of its in-state tuition and “it was far enough away from home that I could be away.”
Throughout his freshman year, the 2014-2015 academic year, Ambuehl wasn’t involved in any of the university’s clubs or organizations. He only went to one football game and left early, he said.
To his surprise, however, all of this changed at the end of the 2015 academic year. Living in Snow Hall, a university-owned residence hall in the Student Living Center, meant he had to move out of the dorm by the end of final’s week, even though he still had a week of working left to do at an after-school daycare center.
Mitchell Thornhill, who was one of Ambuehl’s coworkers and a member of the HURD, invited Ambuehl to stay on his couch until the end of their work term.
From there, everything changed for Ambuehl.
While staying on this couch, he met Blake Lyman, predecessor to Ambuehl’s position.
“The week of finals I come home one day from work and there’s Jake Ambeuhl on my couch,” Lyman said. “It was kind of weird at the beginning, the idea that just some random guy from my roommates work was going to crash on our couch, but by the end we loved him.”
After returning home for summer and coming back to USU in the fall, Lyman and Thornhill convinced Ambuehl to join the Hurd Committee, where he found a passion for USU athletics.
“Jake just took it and ran with it,” Lyman said. “He got really invested and involved in helping with the Hurd.”
Ambuehl and Lyman made a point to be at every game, even less-attended games like volleyball and soccer.
As a HURD committee member, Ambuehl quickly fell in love with the spirit of USU sports games.
“Right in the beginning when all those cheers are loud, it’s just like you can feel it,” he said.
In October, 2016, Jake became what many later referred to as “the living Scotsman.”
The HURD produced a video depicting Ambuehl wearing a kilt and smashing pumpkins with logos of USU rivals painted on them while USU’s anthem “The Scotsman” played in the background.
Later that year, Ambuehl ran unopposed for his current position, and “the living Scotsman” became an identity for him.
Since accepting his position, Ambuehl has earned a reputation for being a fun-loving, positive and energetic person, said Brendon Brady, the Student Alumni Association vice president and a close friend of Ambuehl’s.
“Very fun loving, knows how to have a good time, kind of the life of the party,” Brady said.
Despite his passion for sports and bubbly personality, however, Ambuehl described himself as “a pretty huge nerd.”
“All through high school, I loved video games, I love fantasy books, all that stuff,” he said. “I love reading Ranger’s Apprentice, those are great books, Ender’s Game, all those, pretty huge nerd that way.”
Other friends of Ambuehl’s described him as selfless and down to earth.
Torryn Combs, the USUSA series director, shared a story in which she and Ambuehl played Super Smash Bros and then talked outside of his apartment for hours.
“He’s a really good listener,” Combs said. “You can sit and talk to him and you really feel like he’s there with you…it was like we were kindred spirits almost.”
Combs added Ambuehl has a “sensitive side” behind the fun-loving, outgoing personality described by others.
“You feel like you know him until you actually get to know him,” she said. “He’s really confident and fun, but he really does have this sensitive side to him.”
Ambuehl said another fact people are surprised to hear about him is his uncommon major: religious studies.
“I just enjoy it,” he said. “I think you should study what you love. But secondly, I imagine it as setting myself apart from the mass of students here at Utah State. Really I’m just trying to set myself apart from the general populous, diversify myself, get educated in specific demographics of people and culture, and just make myself applicable to businesses.”
Ambuehl added studying this field has strengthened his faith in his religion. He is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“It’s strengthened my understanding of other faiths and universal truths,” he added.
When he completes his term as a vice president, Ambuehl hopes to have changed the culture of the Hurd and encourage students to attend games whether or not the Aggies are winning.
“Win or lose, that’s my favorite part, just being with everyone there,” he said. “All those differences get put aside and we’re just all focused right there.”