Emma Jacobson

You might call junior Emma Jacobson an academic pioneer.

The New York native arrived on campus seeking a career in hospitality, hoping to someday manage a large hotel chain perhaps. Then, as her scope of academic experience at BU widened, she found herself drawn to healthcare. Both fields involved compassion and care. Once she learned about the dual degree option, she blended the two seemingly disparate disciplines, the first time that combination had been recorded by Boston University’s registrar’s office.

“There are so many academic options at BU,” she says. “I didn’t even know I could do a dual degree and still graduate in four years.”

Not that it’s easy, she’s quick to note. Coming off a successful high school career and with a passion already burning inside, she envisioned big fish status. “I had to deal with the reality that there were a lot of people who were even more passionate than me, who had better grades than me, who had better experience in terms of internships and work. That made me take a step back. It was scary, but it made me realize I had something to work toward. It was like a friendly competition that really made me push myself.”

“People at BU are super passionate, smart, and experienced. I thought I would be a big fish in a small pond. But it made me realize I had something to work toward.”

Her next significant realization arrived by way of a semester abroad in India, where she worked at a luxury hotel in Mumbai. While it was a wonderful opportunity to test her career aspirations, Emma said, it brought an unexpected clarity. “The hotel industry is great and vital to tourism, but I just saw that my passion lay more in working with people who need help. I really wanted to make a difference on a larger scale.”

With faculty support and encouragement, she cast her academic net wider and began taking healthcare classes at the College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences: Sargent College.

“I had a really good relationship with the assistant dean of the hospitality school. He said, ‘if you love healthcare and that’s what you want to do, then go for it.’ Obviously his heart was in hospitality, but that didn’t stop him from telling me to pursue my dreams. That was really meaningful to me.”

The network of professors, advisors, and alumni connections at both schools has proved crucial, helping Emma network and line up internships and jobs on and off campus.

“BU has trained me to be a lot more independent, to push myself to do things outside of my comfort zone,” she says. “Going to India with people that I didn’t know for two months during the summer, that’s something that I probably would not have done if I wasn’t at BU. Aside from the academic rigor, I really learned how to push myself to work hard, and to see that hard work pays off.”