Alexandra Jacobson

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University of Wyoming Student

What personal accomplishment are you most proud of?

I am most proud of pushing myself to find new opportunities in my college career, even when I felt intimidated. I always had a plan for what I thought college would be like, but I don't think I could have imagined the amazing support system or work environment that I have now. I started my freshman year as a determined freshman, ready to join every club and make tons of friends. But after a few dead ends and failed projects I couldn't help but feel discouraged. I wanted to be a part of something that I cared about; something that allowed me to make an impact. I found myself applying to be a Student Coordinator in the office for Service, Leadership, and Community Engagement at the University of Wyoming. I was nervous to bring my ideas about service projects and leadership activities to the table - what if I wasn't ready to develop other leaders? But with the help of my support system and a willingness to turn discomfort into growth, I went for it. Two semesters later, I have been a part of six service projects and multiple leadership development workshops. I also served as an Orientation Leader for incoming freshman over the summer - an intense experience in leadership and teamwork that pushed me to grow immensely. None of these experiences would have been possible if I had remained afraid of the unknown. Even though it has taken immense work to reach this point, I am just as proud of my failures as I am my accomplishments. Whether it's failure or success, I am excited for what will come!

What is your primary personal development goal/business goal for the next 5 years?

As I look towards college graduation, I am focused on finding a career path that will utilize my current skills while providing the opportunity to learn more. My current goal is to learn more American Sign Language and obtain an ASL Interpreting degree. I will look to develop skill sets that increase the range of fields in which I can work, and ASL will do just that. I am hoping to complete the hospice volunteer training over the summer of 2019 and regularly volunteer with the Hospice of Laramie and the residents. I feel strongly about putting more of my personal time and energy into this important field of human services after caring for my grandmother. I personally feel like I am making more of an impact when I have developed deeper ties in my community, which I hope to improve in the next 5 years. I also hope to improve access for students looking to become involved in their community. Our service projects have improved this access for students, but I hope to create a stronger bond between non-profit organizations in Laramie and the UW campus. I want students to feel capable of making an impact in their community, just like I do now.

What is your biggest philanthropic achievement?

This past fall, I had the privilege of serving as the lead Student Coordinator for the Big Event. The Big Event is a Laramie-wide community service event that brings over 700 students out into the Laramie community for a day of service. Students have a chance to not only give back to the community, but also meet new people that they otherwise may not have met. This year we were able to provide service to over 150 homeowners with jobs such as raking, painting, or cleaning. This event requires months of preparation and an amazing team of 6+ staff and student employees. My favorite part of this event was not just the service, but the interaction between students, staff, and community members.

What action or event that you’ve been a part of do you believe has made the biggest difference in Laramie? Or, which action or event are you most proud of?

The Big Event had the largest impact I have seen in my almost three years at the University of Wyoming. Both in numbers of homeowners served and students involved, this is the biggest event (no pun intended!) I have been a part of in my leadership and volunteering experience. Yet it is not the numbers I am most proud of, but rather the relationship this event fosters between the UW campus and the Laramie community. I can personally say that my favorite aspect of preparing for this event was meeting the homeowners and learning more about the community in which I live. I chatted with residents who had been in Laramie for over 50 years and some that had recently moved. I heard about the great storm of 1930 and how it impacted our area. And best of all, I met many amazing people that contribute to a very special town. I have heard many similar stories from students who volunteered at the event and consider those relationships to be the best product of the Big Event. The Big Event fosters a grateful and authentic relationship between students and community members that can be felt at any community or UW event such as the Big Event, or even when walking down the street. I am grateful to have met all of the people involved with the Big Event and be a part of such a positive movement.

What excites you most about the future of Laramie?

Whenever I meet a new student at the university, whether it is an incoming in-state freshman or an international student seeking their PhD, I become excited for the possibilities they bring to the Laramie and Wyoming community. Each person I meet has the potential to pursue their goals and are met with ever-growing opportunities to achieve those goals. Wyoming is a unique blend of cowboy-toughness and homegrown love with which we meet new people; a fact that I never hesitate to brag about when giving tours to potential students. I know that every time we welcome a new person or idea with open arms, our community will only grow stronger. Laramie is a place of opportunity for many students that are looking to contribute their skills to the world, whether it is technological advancements or improvements to the human services field. I can see this with our largest events like the Big Event, all the way to our smaller events that work with nursing homes or local parks. Laramie’s drive for improvement will provide access to increasingly diverse ideas and individuals and make us greater in the end.

What do you think has helped make you successful in your endeavors?

My support system has been pivotal in every endeavor I’ve pursued. Between my friends, family and the wonderful people I work with in the SLCE office, I have always felt supported no matter the outcome. While I have had to embrace the discomfort of growth, my support system always provided a safety net to catch me when I fall. Achievements are great, but I’ve found that success is even sweeter when I have people to share it with. The same goes for failure as well. I am eternally grateful for the people who believe in my ideas and work to help me achieve my goals. I can only hope that I’ve made the same impact on their life as they have on mine.

What advice would you give to other young professionals in Laramie?

As an Orientation Leader this summer, we delivered speeches about our experience and advice for incoming freshman. Mine started out with a story about failure and a fear of falling. I, like many people, found myself in a place where I didn’t feel fulfilled. After several failed attempts at finding my niche and making friends, I felt like I was losing who I was and who I wanted to be. That’s when I decided to leave my comfort zone and join the SLCE team as a test of my passion for leadership development and community engagement. Only after forcing myself to be vulnerable did I rediscover my passion for improving leadership in myself and others. My advice to young professionals in Laramie is to embrace vulnerability as the path to growth, but be intentional with your actions. I had to choose a job and friends that aligned with my core values even when it led to difficult conversations. And when I chose a path that didn’t work out, I felt discouraged. But with the help of my support system I was always ready to try again. As young adults, we are just beginning to find ourselves in a world that can be intimidating. Finding your place might take longer than you’d like, and there will most definitely be failure on the way, but if you follow your core values and strive for growth, I think you will be happy with who you become.

Optional: If you have anything else you’d like to share along with the answers you’ve provided through this selection process feel free to add any additional statements.

I just want to thank the Laramie community for being such a wonderful place to live in. When I came to college, I expected to spend most of my time on campus with other students. But Laramie has been so welcoming to all of its residents that I feel I can now call it home. All of the people I've met are genuinely amazing people and have made a big impact on me as a person and a young professional. Thank you, Laramie!

20 Under 40Jacob Chavez2018