A perspective from the past

Photograph Courtesy of UC Communications

Emily Jolly


     If you have ever participated in one of the many internship opportunities offered at Ursinus, you probably have Dr. Rebecca Jaroff to thank.

     Jaroff, a professor in the English department, graduated from Ursinus in 1981 with a bachelor’s degree in English and a minor in Communication Arts, now known as Media and Communications Studies.

     According to Jaroff, “[Internships] didn’t exist in 1979. But I earned one at a cable TV station in Philadelphia with the encouragement of my mentor, Dr. [Joyce] Henry … So, the Dean at the time decided that perhaps internships were worthwhile and now we actually offer students the chance to do two in different fields.”

     Jaroff used her experience as an intern as an example of how Ursinus prepares students for life after college, and urged students to take advantage of the opportunity.

     “[My internship] changed my life and got me a job after college … That is my favorite story about Ursinus, because students can always make a change! Interestingly enough, I left TV after ten years to get a Ph.D. and Ursinus prepared me for that as well,” Jaroff said.

     Student life at Ursinus was not all about academics for Jaroff, however. She was also president of proTheatre, a student drama organization, president of the Student Activities Board, and a member of the sorority, Kappa Delta Kappa.

     Reminiscing about her favorite part of being a student at Ursinus, Jaroff said, “I loved the campus and learning to become independent. I loved my professors, especially Dr. Joyce Henry, who taught me how to become an independent woman and to think for myself. She gave me support but also made sure that I learned how to take responsibility for myself and my actions – to be an ethical person and a responsible citizen.”

     This connection between faculty and students is something Jaroff is happy to say has not changed over the years.

     “We are so close. Wanting the students to succeed. Having a close, supportive, collaborative role between students and faculty. That is an Ursinus tradition that will never change and makes us distinctive.”

     Jaroff’s least favorite part of Ursinus, then and now, is, “The ‘Ursinus bubble.’ I got frustrated with my peers who didn’t want to discover the world outside of Ursinus.”

     Despite this “bubble,” Jaroff has seen some positive changes to Ursinus over the years, citing the growing diversity and the greater variety of majors and minors.

     “We are growing and changing in ways that are positive and that respond to current challenges. I am always proud of my alma mater’s ability to face difficult challenges and make changes,” said Jaroff.

     But to Jaroff, what hasn’t changed is what is most important: “Ursinus is a special place that helps you to discover the best you can be. I don’t think I could be the professor, the partner, and the parent that I am without Ursinus, and I am proud of being all of those things.”

     Jaroff did not expect to return to Ursinus as a professor when she graduated in 1981, but she is happy that she has.

     “To be completely honest, I thank all of the gods and goddesses every single day because I am blessed to be doing what I do where I do it. It’s an honor and a privilege, plus I live really close by!”

     As a student- turned- professor who paved the way for future generations to experience internships, Jaroff offered some advice for current students, encouraging them to make the most out of their opportunities here.

     “Get out of the bubble! Get on a bus, a train and/or a plane! But keep your roots here because this is such a special place and we should all cherish the privilege and pride we receive from being members of the Ursinus family.”