We each get 24 hours in a day, but the secret to a fulfilled life just might be to follow Anayensi Jacobo’s lead. If she writes it down in her notebook-sized appointment book, you can rest assure it’s important and it takes precedence.
“My agenda is very important for me. I write things down and I have a to-do list. I structure my time, making time for things I love and things I’m passionate about. I’ve had to drop some things, but I’ve kept what’s most important and gives me motivation,” Jacobo said. “I make time to be there for my friends and they’re very supportive of what I do. My roommates, too, have been absolutely stellar.”
Watching television is out and her time is so precious that letting it go by idly just isn’t an option. Giving sound advice to a younger University of San Diego student adjusting to college life? Definitely worth her time. Tutoring and mentoring local high school students in the TRiO Upward Bound program? Certainly. Serving as a community representative for the USD Women’s Center Leadership Council? Of course. Being a big sister and mentor to a young boy in the YMCA’s “Y Friends” program? That’s how she spent some of her time as a sophomore and junior at USD.
Jacobo, an English and philosophy double major and Gender Studies minor, manages her time well. The result is that she has a great heart, great awareness and a determination to make the world around her a better place.
Earlier this month she won three awards in a week’s time including two — the Dr. Linda A.M. Perry Award from the Gender Studies Department and the TRiO Student Support Services Service Award — on the same date and at two different banquets. She also won the Dr. Judy Rauner Award for Social Justice at the May 4 United Front Multicultural Center Diversity Banquet.
“That it was an award for social justice made me happy,” she said of the Rauner accolade. “I want to create social justice, even though I’ve never called it social justice. I just want to go out into the world, work for international organizations and help all sorts of people.”
International exploration is certainly at the top of her to-do list. “There are places abroad that do some things better than in the U.S., we just don’t know about it. Part of it is that I want to learn from other countries; another part is just having the exposure to other cultures.”
Jacobo spent Spring 2010 on USD’s Semester at Sea, a nine-country, four-month study abroad program. She often visits Mexico to visit her mother’s relatives. She’s got an impressive summer lined up after USD’s Commencement May 22. She will go to Costa Rica for fun, to Jamaica for a three-week study abroad program and her last USD class, then return to San Diego to help with the summer Upward Bound program. She’ll reconnect in person with a London pen pal she’s had since the fifth grade and in August she’ll embark on a two-year stint in the Peace Corps (site still unknown).
Her academic experiences have also played a formidable role in her development. A first-generation college student, Jacobo attended Escondido’s Orange Glen High School and participated in the TRiO Upward Bound program to put her on a supportive and informative path to college. She was familiar with USD through its summer Upward Bound program on campus and her parents liked that it was a Catholic university and was closer to home. Jacobo got an early taste of USD through Student Support Services’ Summer Bridge program in August 2007. She moved into her residence hall early, met other students, and met faculty members who taught a mini-college course to prepare Jacobo and other students for USD’s academic rigor.
Jacobo admitted she wasn’t sure what she wanted to study, but soon chose English because of her love for reading literature, writing and being inspired by English professors such as David Cantrell, PhD and Gail Perez, PhD. She gravitated to philosophy and the Gender Studies minor because of Lori Watson, PhD, assistant philosophy professor and director of Gender Studies program, as well as Jacobo’s work in USD’s Women’s Center that helped her strengthen her feminist beliefs.
“I learned a lot through my English and Philosophy majors, but if Gender Studies had been offered as a major, I’d have done that,” Jacobo said. “Gender Studies just spoke to me. I guess I’d never been able to label it, but through Gender Studies I learned more about it and found out more about myself.”
She did a capstone project and a poster presentation at the Women’s and Gender Studies Banquet. Jacobo spotlighted a workplace wage discrepancy that favors men over women across the board. At the same banquet, she was given the Perry Award by Perry herself, a USD professor emerita in Communication Studies who sought to start a gender studies program on campus.
“I’m glad I got the opportunity to meet her,” Jacobo said. “She’s so amazing. She’s the founder of the program and the fact that I even had the chance to take gender classes is because of her.”
Jacobo plans to attend graduate school after her Peace Corps experience and indicated feminist or gender studies is a distinct possibility. Any firm decision might be two years away, but if it’s on her to-do list, it’s probably the right answer.
— Ryan T. Blystone