Jennifer Hardacker | You Think College is for You? Yes!
Jennifer Hardacker was always told she was smart as a child.
“Smart, not cute. I was too tall to be cute,” she said. “For me, for validation, I had to continue to be smart.”
She was a self-professed geek in high school, lettering on an academic team, and determined to go to college.
Her high school counselor wasn’t as supportive. “You think college is for you?” Hardacker was asked.
“My parents were 17 when I was born, and the counselor had counseled my dad.”
She found her way to Indiana University anyway — though she discovered that there were important things she didn't know about college.
“I knew I wanted to be a filmmaker, but they don’t have a film program,” she said. “I didn’t know to look for that.”
Instead, she earned a degree in German.
“I remember my grandfather would call and say things like, ‘I went to the chiropractor today. It was $500! You should be a chiropractor.”
The assumption in her family, like others, was that you went to college solely to get a specific job.
“It doesn’t work that way,” Hardacker said.
A liberal arts education is more about opening up new worlds and building the knowledge that can support a variety of career pathways.
Hardacker eventually went on to earn an MFA in cinema and photography. She is an associate professor in Pacific University’s media arts program, and she did go on to become a filmmaker, creating several award-winning pieces.
First-Generation at Pacific | About 24 percent of Pacific University undergraduate students are “first-generation,” meaning they are the first in their families to attend college. Pacific faculty and staff are seeking out ways to better support those students through their college experience, including a recent luncheon where staff and faculty like Hardacker shared their own first-generation experiences. “There are people here to help you,” said College of Arts & Sciences Dean Lisa Carstens.”We already know you can do it; you’re here. We just want to make it smoother.”