Isabella Jacobsen applied to the University of Nebraska–Lincoln on a whim the night of the undergraduate application deadline.
And now, as she’s counting down the days until she graduates May 14 with a degree in animal science, she’s forever glad she took a chance on “Dear Old Nebraska U.”
“We came to visit my senior year, and the week we were here I absolutely fell in love,” Jacobsen said. “My major is on East Campus, so I toured there pretty thoroughly, and I loved how small it felt even though we were in a city.”
Jacobsen said it was an easy decision to move from her home in Eastvale, California, to middle America after touring and earning a scholarship from the university.
Although she was excited to attend Nebraska, Jacobsen struggled with her mental health and being far away from her family her freshman year. She reached out to her academic adviser for support, whom she credits with pushing her through those challenges and giving her hope.
“I never felt like I didn’t have the support I needed,” she said. “It made me feel like I was in the right place.”
During her sophomore year, Jacobsen faced another grand challenge — figuring out her passion.
She had a budding interest in law growing up with two parents in law enforcement and a family friend who worked as an attorney. At the same time, she joined the Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program and found an inspiring community in her peers and Tom Field, director of the Engler program.
Since focusing in on law and business her sophomore year, Jacobsen has immersed herself in both worlds and plans to continue those passions beyond graduation.
Jacobsen launched her first large endeavor in the business world by starting her own baking company in summer 2020 while she was quarantining at home in California during the initial months of the COVID-19 pandemic. She started small by baking cinnamon rolls for friends and neighbors, but once she moved back to Lincoln for school, she was bombarded with requests for dozens of cinnamon rolls, wedding cakes and cookies.
She met with Dave Lambe, Engler’s chief learning officer, and other faculty and staff members in the Engler program to talk about how to grow her business, and with their guidance and advice, she now rents a commercial kitchen to keep up with her order demands and coordinates all the baking for a coffee shop in Waverly.
“When I did start my own business, I had this amazing community and support system,” Jacobsen said. “The network I’ve built, the connections I’ve made and the people I’ve met through my time here have been amazing and will last with me for a lifetime.”
In the legal realm, Jacobsen secured an internship with Bruning Law Group, founded by former Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning. Jacobsen worked within several sectors of law alongside attorneys, which solidified her decision to attend law school in hopes of creating a career where she can be a voice for Nebraska’s agricultural community.
With dozens of law school options in the Midwest, Jacobsen’s decision was clear once again.
She’ll start — or “stay at home,” as she said — at the University of Nebraska College of Law this fall.
“Looking at UNL, the faculty at the College of Law are super inspiring, super compassionate and really easy to talk to,” Jacobsen said. “When I toured Nebraska Law, I could see the love they put into the building and the college as a whole.”
Enrolling in the college was a natural decision for Jacobsen since East Campus has become one of her favorite locations. She also hopes to serve rural communities in the future and feels that earning a law degree in the heartland will help her achieve that.
“I have such a strong connection to the school already and to the campus, and I want to continue that because I want to represent us in the future,” she said. “I want to say I am the product of a Nebraska education.”
In the meantime, Jacobsen has been reflecting on her four years of undergraduate education and how much she’s learned about herself and how to succeed in her pursuits. She said Field’s classes always felt like a motivational speech because of the life lessons he taught, which in turn made her realize her strengths and potential for success.
She also appreciates that she took the leap to ask for help in the face of challenges, and that going forward, she knows it’s OK to lean on others — especially her fellow Huskers.
“The professors and my advisers have been so instrumental in my success,” she said. “The Husker family is supportive and actively involved in helping you succeed.”