Ricardo Jacobs, 24, may not be a native of Jackson, but it's obvious that he loves the city he's called home since the sixth grade. "Jackson is a nice place to live; the people that I've met, I like them," he said, looking me straight in the eye as he went on to say something that took me by surprise somewhat, coming as it did from a young, 21st century black man. "You are ultimately in control of your own life. You can make decisions for yourself. I strongly believe that, and I have no trouble telling people that."
The decisions Jacobs made brought him to this point in his life, about to finish his last semester at Hinds, with plans to continue his work in music education at a four-year college out of state. He hasn't—and he won't—let anything get in the way of achieving his goal.
Jacobs turned out to be natural on the cello, since 6th grade APAC where he first came in contact with two mentors who got him where he is today, Dr. Perry Combs and Jacqueline Perry.
By his junior year at Forest Hill High School, he had turned to the viola, his instrument of choice still today. After graduation, things were set for the fall of 1999; he had a full scholarship to Hinds. Then, like many young people, Jacobs told me—shaking his head—he got off track, dropping out, going to work.
That was one big transition—going to college, being on his own—and he needed time to adjust. Never losing his focus, saving, traveling, meeting people, Jacobs knew that eventually he would return to school and get his music education degree. Combs, who was at Hinds by 1999, prodded Jacobs, calling him to play time and again with various groups.
The value of finding your dream and working to make it come true is not lost on Jacobs. "I set high expectations for myself. If I feel I'm falling behind, I'll push myself that much harder," he says, which is why his plans include a masters degree and teaching first in high school, then college.
For parents and teachers in the meantime, he has an important message—help today's students build a positive self-image, to be able to withstand those who knock them down because they have a talent and a vision for themselves.
That's what Jacobs will do, when he comes back home. "Once I get that experience, I will come back to Jackson," he said emphatically. And teach.