Business major, honors student Sammy Jacobs embraces UMSL opportunities
Sammy Jacobs wore a red dress and high heels as she stood in a ballroom decorated with red and gold balloons, smiling though her knees were a bit shaky from nervousness. It was time for the announcer to name the 2020 University of Missouri–St. Louis homecoming royalty.
The sound caused Jacobs’ eyes to widen and her jaw to drop. A few moments later, she was adorned with a crown and a sash proclaiming her UMSL royalty.
Jacobs characterizes the moment as a major highlight of her time at UMSL, a testament to the support she received from peers and faculty. Yet it’s only part of her robust college experience. Since coming to campus in 2017, she’s served as an orientation leader, worked in the Recreation and Wellness Center and Millennium Student Center, been a member of the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority, managed social media for the Pierre Laclede Honors College and served as editor of student-run publication Brain Stew.
As a first-generation college student, Jacobs was determined to enjoy everything the university had to offer. She also intended to savor what St. Louis had to offer as well. UMSL’s location was its first draw for the Jefferson City native, along with the university’s affordability.
“I knew I wanted to go to St. Louis, even though I’d only been here twice ever before I moved here,” she said. “It’s always been a dream of mine to live here. UMSL offered me a lot of scholarships, and I loved the residence halls. They were amazing in comparison to other schools I looked at.”
Jacobs lived in Oak Hall during her freshman year and cherishes the memories of hanging out with friends at the Provincial House Dining Hall or studying at University Libraries. When she moved to an off-campus apartment her sophomore year, she remained a familiar face at the Rec Center and MSC.
As a freshman, Jacobs registered as a business major. But she later discovered a passion for graphic design and switched to an art degree.
“It was an amazing program,” she said. “I got to work with other people my age in a cohort. Most of the classes function like you’re working in a graphic design firm.”
Ultimately, though, she was drawn back to the versatility offered by a business degree and returned to her original major while keeping art as her minor.
“The classes are a little bigger, but you can find people to talk to and make personal connections with in every class,” she said. “I like how much variety there is in the business school. You can do whatever you want – cybersecurity, information systems, marketing, all the different subcategories. If I went to another college, it might have been harder to find something that I like.”
Many of Jacobs’ favorite classes were offered by the Honors College. The smaller class sizes reminded her of a high school, and she valued the connections she made with other honors students.
“We’ve all learned to work together as a team,” she said. “The classes are mostly discussion-based, and I love talking. I can understand the content on a deeper level rather than just getting talked to. In the Honors College, questions are so accepted and welcome.”
She’s been heavily involved in the Honors College, completing a semester-long internship where she set up social media accounts to promote the college.
She also gained hands-on marketing experience through a project for her honors writing composition class. Students in the class worked with the Spanish Lake Community Association to create a unified, streamlined marketing plan.
Jacobs was part of a small group that created targeted social media posts to attract people to Spanish Lake. They drafted and sent letters to corporations asking for donations and business sponsorships for events.
She’s also written articles and features for Brain Stew, a student-run publication offering honors students a forum to share their writing and artwork.
Last semester, she coordinated the publication remotely while serving as editor. When she realized being quarantined left her with a lot of free time, she increased Brain Stew’s schedule from biweekly to weekly. In addition to writing and planning the layout, she also marketed the publication to students.
“It’s a forum for open thought,” she said. “That’s our main thing. It allows everyone to add their own creativity. People need Brain Stew right now because we all feel like everything’s getting ripped away from us. People could talk about things they’re excited about or share their artwork or write a goofy review about a movie they watched – just to make sure people don’t feel alone.”
Jacobs was surprised to find she preferred the weekly schedule because it allowed her to immediately work on ideas instead of waiting for the next week’s issue.
She’s involved in Greek life through her membership in the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority, the organization that nominated her for homecoming royalty. She’s passionate about the sorority’s focus on increasing awareness and education about breast cancer.
“The sorority has definitely given me a lot of opportunities and amazing friends,” she said. “It’s basically like a family, a whole support system. Homecoming is always so much fun. My sorority is really hyped and ready to go and enters all the competitions.”
As she looks toward leaving UMSL after her expected graduation in December, Jacobs is excited about the wide range of possibilities regarding where she might work and live. She’s hoping to embrace whatever opportunities come her way, focusing on enjoying each moment.
“My goal is just being happy,” she said. “Happy with who I am as an individual, not comparing myself to other people.”
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