Emma Jacobsen, Pacific valedictorian at 20
Graduating senior from Cornelius will pursue a master's degree in social anthropology at the University of Oxford
Emma Jacobsen isn't one to waste time. The 2012 Pacific University College of Arts and Sciences valedictorian and 2009 alumna of Hillsboro's Glencoe High School will graduate with honors from Pacific on May 19 with a degree in Anthropology after just three years of college study.
She has been accepted to the prestigious University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, where she will begin pursuit of a master's degree in social anthropology this fall.
The resident of Cornelius elected to stay close to home for her undergraduate experience after graduating from Glencoe as valedictorian in just three years as well.
She recently turned 20 and has her sights set on a career in academia.
Jacobsen developed a love for learning as a child and her appetite for knowledge intensified at age 11 following a trip with her parents to Oxford.
'From a young age, I recognized the mechanics and underlying logics of teaching,' she said. 'Even then, my dream was to be a university professor.'
For Jacobsen, Oxford is just the latest chapter in a continual journey to understand the deep complexities of cultures throughout the world.
'Now, I seek to demystify the mysterious and grasp the logics of cultures in an effort to bring greater clarity to our understanding of others.'
Jacobsen's undergraduate research-required to graduate - focused on the cultural complexities of dressage, a sport and art form that consists of training a horse through a series of delicate ballet-like movements while carrying a rider.
A dressage enthusiast herself, Jacobsen reveled in the mental and physical rigor of the practice. The more she rode, however, the less comfortable she felt about the dressage subculture.
'In many circumstances, dressage riders have created an Old World pseudo-feudal system based upon the breeding of horses, the accolades of their trainers and their own riding skills and knowledge,' she said.
'The seat on the horse still distinguishes the grooms from the noblemen, where tradition and history hold precedent in a vain attempt to exist in a highly disciplined world with clearly defined social statuses and roles.'