Meet Jacob Mercer

Meet Jacob Mercer


Q. When did you begin working at ENMU?

July 18, 2016

Q. What are the main duties of your job?

I act as a Designated School Official for the F-1 student program and as an Alternate Responsible Officer for the J-1 student exchange program. I'm responsible for providing information to students with regard to immigration-related matters--and I develop and implement programs and services for international students.

Q. What have you enjoyed most about your job, and what have been the biggest challenges?

Interacting with students face-to-face is by far the best part of the job--having chats in my office and hearing about where they're from, what they think of the States, where they're headed in life, and how I can help them out.

The position does come with a pretty steep learning curve, but I think I'm climbing it all right.

Q. What were you doing before you came to ENMU, and what other jobs have you held?

After graduate school, I lived and worked in Asia for 5 years--4 in Gwangju, South Korea and one in Surabaya, Indonesia--where I taught university-level English and acted as an academic advisor.

In the States, I've had a wide variety of strange jobs: teaching composition courses at Oregon State University, waiting tables at Applebee's and Red Robin, unloading trucks on the Home Depot overnight freight team, managing an orthodontist's office, manning a hotel front desk, organizing government documents, pruning trees at a plant nursery, and sorting pounds of grass-seed samples for testing at the Oregon State University Seed Laboratory.

Q. What are your degrees and majors, and what activities did you participate in college?

I have a BA in World Religions with a minor in German from Colorado College and an MFA in Creative Writing from Oregon State University. In undergrad, I competed in a bunch of poetry slams and hiked and camped and skied a lot. In grad school, I think I just wrote all the time and scowled at the rainy weather.

Q. Where were you born, raised, and what was your life like growing up?

I was born in Las Cruces, New Mexico, and grew up twenty miles outside of town near La Mesa, a sleepy little village on the Rio Grande. My family home is in the middle of a pecan orchard. I had no siblings or neighbors, so I got really good at entertaining myself--climbing trees, battling Ninja Turtles, and chasing the dog around the yard. I played soccer from age 6 until sophomore year of high school, when I defected to the slam team and art club.

My parents are both retired public-school teachers. My dad taught 6th-grade Social Studies for over 30 years, and my mom taught elementary kids, from kinder to fourth.

Q. Tell us about your own family?

Like a wife and kids? None yet, but it's a work in progress.

Q. What are your hobbies?

I still love hiking, camping, and skiing. I like to fish, draw, and paint. I'm obsessed with books, movies, and music--and I spend a good deal of my free time writing.

Q. What is your ultimate career goal?

I wouldn't mind ending up as the director of a university Office of International Programs, or something close to it. I also wouldn't mind writing for a living. But the former seems more realistic.

Q. What gives your life meaning? Besides career goals, what else do you hope to accomplish?

Family, friends, and community. Traveling and experiencing new things. It's hard for me to be content unless I'm working on some kind of creative project--and, hopefully, some of these projects will end up as published novels. Also, there are a lot of countries I still need to see. And I still need to get scuba certified.

Q. What is your general impression of Portales, and ENMU?

This place is great. After years of fighting crowds and squeezing into cubicles in huge, densely populated Asian cities, it's wonderful to be able to finally spread out again. Probably because I grew up in rural New Mexico, I feel at home in wide-open spaces and extreme heat--and in small towns like Portales where everyone is welcoming and easy to get to know. ENMU is the friendliest, most accommodating workplace I have ever been in. No exaggeration. I'm starting to annoy friends and family by constantly bragging about how awesome it is to work here.

Q. Other thoughts?

If we haven't met yet, stop by my office and say hi! I'm in SAS 170.

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