Northwestern prepares for commencement ceremony

Northwestern College will award 230 diplomas during its commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 12. Nineteen students will receive Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees, while the rest of the graduating seniors will be granted Bachelor of Arts degrees.

Ceremonies will begin at 10 a.m. in the DeWitt Physical Fitness Center of the Rowenhorst Student Center. Laura Jacobson, a graduate of Northwestern College and the William & Mary School of Law, will address the graduates in a speech entitled “Called to Be Ambassadors Emboldened by Faith.”

A live webcast of commencement will be available at The college’s baccalaureate service is scheduled for 8 p.m. Friday, May 11, in Christ Chapel.

Jacobson is an attorney for the St. Frances Cabrini Center for Immigrant Legal Assistance in Houston, Texas. A 2008 graduate of Northwestern, she was one of two seniors chosen to receive the college’s top Faculty Honors Award. Her Spanish minor gave her a heart for immigrants, while her majors in English and writing/rhetoric showed her how to use words to advocate for people.

Planning on a career in public service, the native of Galva, Iowa, was accepted into the law schools of Georgetown, Michigan and UCLA. She chose the College of William & Mary because its sense of community reminded her of her alma mater.

While in graduate school, Jacobson became involved in a local church’s Hispanic ministry and discovered a need for legal information among the immigrant population of Williamsburg, Va. In response, she started a program to connect her fellow students with immigrants. Jacobson called it De Vecino a Vecino (From Neighbor to Neighbor) to highlight its focus on partnership. For her efforts, she received the William & Mary School of Law’s prestigious Thurgood Marshall Award for public service when she graduated in 2011.

Jacobson volunteered with the Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition in Washington, D.C., during her law school years. She also interned for an immigration law group in Norfolk, Va., and the Catholic Charities Immigration Legal Assistance Services in Omaha, Neb. As a staff attorney for the St. Frances Cabrini Center, she prepares immigration petitions for Cubans seeking to become permanent residents of the U.S. She also gives legal counsel to court-appointed custodians of undocumented child immigrants who have entered the country by themselves.