Nebraskan Dean Jacobs recounts his two-year Amazon journey to a full house last Wednesday


Tess Riecke

Dean Jacobs

Josh Tvrdy, Staff Writer

The Frey conference suite was filled with WSC students on Thursday eager to hear the stories of Dean Jacobs.

Jacobs, a 1986 WSC graduate, talked about his world-wide travels and, in particular, his trips to the Amazon rain basin. Jacobs, a native Nebraskan, travels the world hoping to inform people of other cultures, and to change their perspectives.

Jacobs was born in Wahoo and grew up on a farm. When he was five years old, his family moved to Fremont where he still lives today.

“I’m just a farm boy from Nebraska. My intention is simple: to leave the world better than I found it,” Jacobs said.

Jacobs’ degree in biology and a minor in life science and art landed him a job at Pfizer pharmaceuticals, where he worked for ten years.

Jacobs tells a story of a car crash that changed his life. One that he walked away from unharmed. It was at that moment that Jacobs realized that he didn’t want to work for Pfizer anymore.

He did what few would do. Jacobs sold his house and quit his job and set out to travel the world. Jacobs said that he was grateful for what Pfizer gave him, which was the financial stability to go after his dream.

“You have to be willing to not let go of your dreams,” Jacobs said. “Dreams are not reserved for the most wealthy, the most beautiful or the most talented special people. They are the birth right of all people, people just like you and me.”

His first trip lasted two years, when Jacobs traveled through 28 countries and was living on $10 to $15 a day. Since that first trip, Jacobs has taken many other journeys, including canoeing the Mississippi river and walking the Great Wall of China.

In China, Jacobs met the president of the Dian Fossey project. Jacobs was offered a job to work for the project and was paid to observe gorillas for seven months.

When talking about the Amazon rain basin, Jacobs tells stories of the people he met in the villages he stayed in and the connections he made with them. When Jacobs left the Amazon to come home, he promised the people that he would return with school materials. Jacobs has kept his promise and been back to the Amazon several times.

Jacobs is leading a trip to the Amazon for Wayne State students in June.
“If you do come with us, your life will never be the same,” Jacobs said. “Most importantly, you need to come with the attitude to give, because you will get plenty.”

If you are interested in going to the rainforest on this trip there is only room for 14 students. Jacobs asked that you email him at [email protected] and tell Jacobs why you want to go—in one sentence.