Defying the odds to achieve greatness

Dr. Beatrice Jacobson is holding her great-grandmother's graduating certificate from 1974, which not only represents one of her family's accomplishments, but also the root of her passion. Marilou Terrones/The Buzz.
Dr. Beatrice Jacobson is holding her great-grandmother’s graduating certificate from 1974, which not only represents one of her family’s accomplishments, but also the root of her passion. Marilou Terrones/The Buzz.

By Marilou Terrones

Inspired by her great-grandmother and a drive to make a difference, Dr. Beatrice Jacobson didn’t let anything get in the way of her dreams.

Jacobson, also known as Bea, remembers her great-grandmother being so enthusiastic about literature, which later kindled Jacobson’s love for English.

Jacobson had few, if any, professional female role models in her family whom she could look up to. Although her great grandmother appreciated literature, she did not make it a lifestyle, nor did she seek a job in a field that would embrace her affection for it. On the other hand, Jacobson’s mother encouraged her to get an education and have a career, but Jacobson did not think it was possible to have a job and still have time to be a mother.

After encountering a professor who was devoted to her profession but still had love to give to two kids of her own, Jacobson made a decision.

She received her bachelor’s in English at Seton Hall University, her master’s at Penn State, and her doctorate at the University of Iowa. Jacobson began working at Augustana College and was later offered a position at Ambrose, where she began teaching English and initiated the Women Studies’ program.

Bea recalls the year she began working at SAU, where e-mail was just beginning to develop as a surviving tool. She knew very little about what it meant to be a member of the community, but after 20 years of dedication, she now has a clear definition.

Aside from being involved in community service, it also means “[having] a real thirst to be engaged in the world,” she said.

Jacobson will be retiring after the 2014 spring semester. She will certainly miss being a professor, which has “enriched [her] life.” Jacobson recognizes that she has found support at St. Ambrose that is not common in most working environments, which has encouraged her growth as an individual and a professor. What she enjoys most about her job is that even after so many years, she is “still discovering things.”

Jacobson will dedicate her spare time to family as well as her long lost love. Having taken on a role which required her to discipline future generations, Jacobson had to voluntarily give up writing—one of the many things she hopes to engage in after retiring. Retreating from what has become a lifestyle will also give her the opportunity to focus on service projects as well as embracing the culture she is so drawn in by in Ecuador.

Jacobson hopes to be remembered as “somebody who has a sense of humor . . . as a team player.” She would like to be thought of as part of the learning journey rather than a dictator in a classroom because even after her many years of teaching, Jacobson continues being a student.

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