UNK Today | August 2014 - page 36

By ALEX MORALES
Hub Intern
KEARNEY —A pin board
in Jake Jacobsen’s office reads:
“First things first. Then run!”
For a lifelong runner who has
lost track of how many full and
half marathons she has compet-
ed in, it is hard to believe that
anything comes before running
for Jacobsen, a
senior lecturer in
communication
at the University
of Nebraska at
Kearney.
The only
indication in
Jacobsen’s
office that she is
a runner is her
pair of running shoes that she
wears between training and
summer work. Her office is
mostly a kaleidoscope of gifts
and photos.
Stitched art exclusive to
islands near Panama and native
handiwork hang on two of the
walls, a small print of Mount
St. Michel in Normandy, where
she remembers coming upon
nuns singing
angelically, is
on a file cabi-
net in a corner.
In another
corner are
more cross-
stitch flowers
from China, a
Hawaiian rug
is in the center
of the room,
and countless
pictures of
family and
students are everywhere else.
“I have been so blessed with
four children and six grandchil-
dren, all of whom touch my life
in unique and special ways,”
she said. “I have learned more
about the world and the gifts
that these young students are
sharing as well as the abun-
dance of talent that exists in all
walks of life by spending time
with them outside the class-
room.”
So running does not come
first, nor does being the first to
cross the finish line.
“Anyone can give one amaz-
ing speech, but a month later
can you give another? Anyone
can be an incredible teacher
the first day of class, but just
before break, do students still
think you are a great teacher?”
she asks.
“I’d rather run with some-
one in their 80s ... than with a
young person who is just fast,”
she says. “It is consistency in
life.”
Consistency comes by way
of exposure and hard work
for Jacobsen. She has been a
single mother most of her life,
put herself through undergrad-
uate and graduate school, and
has traveled extensively for
pleasure and for work. She has
spent summers trekking across
England, Ireland, France, Italy,
Portugal and Spain, and taught
in China.
She also has all the injuries
that go along with being a long-
term athlete. She’s broken all
of her toes in both of her feet
and has a pin in one of them. At
one point, three weeks before
getting her master’s degree and
with a job offer on the table,
she was in a cycling accident in
which her lungs were punc-
tured and she lost her right eye.
“You have to move forward.
Life is about change. You stand
up, take a step, and anoth-
er step, and that is how you
get through when things are
tough,” she said.
This is a lesson Jacobsen
learned as an 18-year-old upon
meeting Christiaan Barnard
in Cape Town, South Afri-
ca. Barnard, who performed
the world’s first successful
human-to-
human heart
transplant, told
her, “The best
thing to learn
in life is to not
be afraid to
make a mis-
take, because
that is how
you learn.”
By coinci-
dence, when
Jacobsen had
her fourth
child Marti, and Marti needed
emergency heart surgery, the
Canadian doctor who per-
formed the surgery had trained
under Barnard. “The longer
you live, you realize that there
is a circle. You touch a life by
breathing, and that life will
touch another life, and even-
tually it’ll come back to you,”
she said.
That is why Jacobsen empha-
sizes community involvement
to her students. “I tell students
to get involved. Stand up, take
a step, open the door and say
‘Hi.’You have to be a friend to
acquire a friend,” she said. “My
students have been an amazing
present to my life, and upon
graduation many have become
personal and professional
friends.”
Still Jacobsen enjoys com-
peting in running, cycling and
adventure races across the
United States. Her most recent
was the Frank Maier Marathon
in Juneau, Alaska.
Closer to home she is in the
Lucky 13 Club for people who
have finished the Lincoln Mar-
athon 13 times.
Running is a simple joy in
Jacobsen’s busy world of moth-
ering, teaching and traveling.
“Running is the best stress
relief. It is a way to clear your
head, think through your day.
I have the perfect job in the
whole wide world, I love it.”
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On the Run
Jacobsen doesn’t know how many marathons she has ran, but they’re only part of her life
UNK
Today
:
Personalities
Jake Jacobsen
AWARDS
Outstanding Professor 2008-
09 and 2011- 2012
Xi Phi Chapter of Mortar Board
Outstanding Faculty 2007,
2008 and 2012
Outstanding Instructor from
the campus Omega Greek
community
Many Accounting Society and
the International Student Orga-
nization honors
THE UNK PROFESSOR
stands at the finish line of a
marathon prior to competing.
Jacobsen has lost track of
how many marathons she has
ran in her life.
JACOBSEN’S PASSION
for running has led her to compete in marathons nationwide. She also
has ran the Lincoln Marathon a total of 13 times.
JACOBSEN
a true running
veteran — is no
stranger to injury.
As a runner she
has broken all
of her toes and
had to have a pin
inserted into one
of her toes.
Courtesy
“You have to
move
forward. Life is about
change. You stand up,
take a step, and another
step, and that is how you
get through when things
are tough.”
Jake Jacobsen
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