Standout Seniors: Meet Marcus Jacobs (Business Economics and International Business)

Penn State Behrend’s class of 2022 is ready to make its mark on the world!  We’re proud of our students and the things they’ve accomplished and learned while here at Behrend. Over the next several weeks, we’ll be introducing you to a few of our remarkable seniors who have overcome challenges, pioneered new technology, participated in important research projects, and left an impression at Penn State Behrend.

Today, we’d like you to meet Marcus Jacobs: 

marcus jacobs

Major: Dual majoring in Business Economics and International Business

Hometown: Mount Washington in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Scholarships: Bayard D. and Ethel M. Kunkle Scholarship, Pathway to Success: Summer Start Scholarship, Behrend Faculty and Staff Scholarship, and the Lawrence and Elizabeth Held Scholarship.

Why he chose Behrend:  In a way, I didn’t. I originally went to a community college in Pittsburgh. There, I had the opportunity to tour several universities. Penn State’s University Park stood out to me, and I applied. Because I was a transfer student, I had to do a 2 + 2 program (two years at a Commonwealth campus and two years at University Park). I chose Behrend, but within three weeks of being here, I knew I wanted to stay.

Decision made, period: The faculty relationships I had made in just a month, the energy that I experienced at Behrend, and the plethora of opportunities available made up my mind. I am a decisive person so when I decided that I was staying, that was that.

On Business Econ: Unlike many other schools, Behrend houses the Economics program in its business school, so there is a particular focus on the business applications of economics, which was of most interest to me. I have been particularly interested in the field of Behavioral Economics, which studies decisions being made in real-world situations that might not line up with the expectations set forth by the traditional Economic view.

On International Business: I.B. is a concurrent major that must be taken in combination with another business major. This allows you to get two degrees with just a few extra courses.

Can talk and walk backwards:  I have been a Lion Ambassador since the fall semester of my first year. In that time, I have served as historian and treasurer. I got to call Midnight Bingo twice, and I have given countless tours around the campus. I am very good at walking backward around campus.

Virtual tour leads to research work: After spearheading a virtual tour of Behrend, I got involved with the college’s Virtual Augmented Reality (VAR) Lab, which is directed by Dr. Chris Shelton, assistant professor of clinical psychology. I’ve been working as a student researcher and project manager in the VAR Lab for the past year and a half.

Hike the gorge with Marcus: One of the projects I’m most proud of is a virtual hike through Wintergreen Gorge. I had the chance to work with all types of unique hardware and software while working on it, and my “office” was the great outdoors for several weeks in early summer. I even presented it at a Penn State Alumni Association WE ARE Weekend virtual event.  I’m currently working on a four-seasons tour of Wintergreen Gorge.

He’s an idea guy who can take the lead: I really enjoy brainstorming. I love to think of visual improvements that I would like to see in the world and look at them from many different angles, then loop in a lot of different individuals to ensure a well-rounded solution. That is why I decided to pursue a graduate degree in project management. I’ve learned that the most fulfilling work for me is moving a project along, pushing it as far as I can before passing it on to those who come after me.

Thrill seeker: I have been skydiving and white-water rafting. (Watch us on the water in 360 here.) Also, the first time I ever went tent camping, it was along a 10-mile section of the Appalachian Trail in the mountains between Tennessee and North Carolina…in January…with a couple of friends as inexperienced as I was. I’m proud to say that I planned that trip, and it included a second and third day with an additional 16 miles of hiking (optimistic in hindsight, I know). I maintain that I’d have finished that trip if my friends hadn’t chickened out after one night in 26 degrees. We high-tailed it out of there that morning and caught a shuttle back to the car.

His definition of the good life: Surrounded by nature with the self-sufficient infrastructure around me that is necessary for comfortable off-the-grid living. Alaska, here I come!

What he’s passionate about: My involvement in the VAR Lab at Behrend. I believe in our collective vision, and I believe that we provide value and fill a gap in the emerging immersive technologies space.


Advice for first-year students: Whenever I see this question asked of a senior or alumni, they say “get involved.” All can say is that I’ve been fairly involved since day one here, and I still feel like I ran out of time. So, yes, get involved, the sooner the better. And don’t be afraid to try something completely out of your wheelhouse. If I hadn’t, I might never have gotten involved in immersive experiences or mixed/extended reality (XR).

Marcus is not quite done at Penn State. After his graduation in May, he will pursue a Master of Project Management degree, which is administered by Penn State Behrend through World Campus.


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