Engineering grad combines love of nature, math to better the world


Name: Grace Jacobson

College: College of Engineering and Technology

Major: Engineering, environmental concentration; minor in mathematics

Age: 22

Classification/Year: Senior

Hometown: Cary, North Carolina

Hobbies/interests: Gardening, bike riding, playing chess and card games


Favorite hangout: At home or friends’ houses

Favorite place on campus: Science and Technology Building

Favorite place to eat: McAlister’s Deli

Favorite class: Water quality, and water and wastewater treatment

Professor who influenced you the most: Dr. Natasha Bell


Dream job: Professional environmental engineer

Your words to live by: “It be like that.”

What advice do you have for other students? Take advantage of professors’ office hours when you need extra help, as well as all the resources your school provides (career center, writing center, financial services, etc.)

What is something cool about ECU that you wish you knew during your first year? The Isley Innovation Hub

Grace Jacobson found a place to grow at East Carolina University, as a student and as a person.

“I gained that sense of independence, finally moving away from home. It was really cool. Living in an apartment and having my own bills made me feel more responsible,” she said.

Jacobson will graduate with an engineering degree with an environmental concentration, saying her experiences at ECU are ones she would not trade.

Jacobson found a way to combine her love of nature and math with an engineering degree focusing on environmental engineering.

Jacobson found a way to combine her love of nature and math with an engineering degree focusing on environmental engineering.

“I was able to meet all kinds of people, a really diverse group of people, and I’ve made some really good friends,” she said. “I’ve had some really awesome professors who are so willing to help with everything and make sure their students succeed.”

Jacobson attended community college near her home in Cary before transferring to ECU when she learned the Department of Engineering offered an environmental concentration.

“I was going to do mechanical engineering just because it was the basic one and really broad, but when I saw environmental, I researched it and it really aligned with my interests a lot more than building machines,” she said. “I’ve always done a lot of gardening with my dad and kept a lot of plants in the house. I love nature, so being able to combine my math skills with my love of nature was perfect. Plus, anything about making the world a better place and feeling good about what I do, I felt like environmental engineering was about fixing the world and making sure it still looks pretty.”

Her passion for the environment grew, quite literally, in that garden with her father, David Jacobson, a retired Marine Corps colonel she calls her biggest role model.

“We used to grow so many cucumbers. It was like an insane amount. It was fun to grow them, and we made pickles a few times because we had so many,” she said. “We grew a lot of vegetables — tomatoes, green beans, peppers. We tried doing cantaloupes one time, but it didn’t work out too well.”

Jacobson grew career experience at ECU while working in the Center for Sustainable Energy and Environmental Engineering doing energy assessments for businesses and working as a project manager in the Water Resources Center.

“It’s a lot sometimes, but I’m grateful I got to do it,” she said. “Both jobs are consulting firm types of jobs, which is exactly what I want to go do.”

Jacobson said she is still applying for jobs, looking for something that is the right fit that is close to her Cary home. She said her family will be in her thoughts during commencement.

“In the moment, it’s probably going to be really exciting, emotional, a little overwhelming for a good couple of minutes. Afterward, I’ll just be anxious to see my family and go get some food,” she said. “But I’m really excited for it. I’m the first of my siblings to go to college, and I’m glad I can make my family proud.”