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Scholarships created in remembrance of student's father


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By Mary Kenney




It was 3:55 p.m. in Israel. Rachel Jacobson sat on the back balcony of her apartment in Tel Aviv, remembering her life 10 years ago.

Rachel has lived in Tel Aviv for six years. During that time, she learned Hebrew, taught English, earned her master’s degree in art therapy and began work as a personal trainer.

But 10 years ago, Rachel was in Bloomington, watching the TV coverage as her father’s office collapsed after a plane crashed into the World Trade Center.

Rachel’s father, Steven Jacobson, was one of nearly 3,000 civilians who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001.

It took five years for Rachel to learn to grieve and accept what happened, but it took less than a year for her to find a way to honor her father’s memory.

The IU Student Foundation approached Rachel with the idea to create the 9-11 Scholarship Fund in 2002. Its purpose would be to commemorate family members of IU students lost in the attacks. Revenue from the 2002 Little 500 race and donations made the fund possible.

Three students were known to have lost family members in the terrorist attacks, and three scholarships were created to honor them. The three students were Joshua Goldflam, Jessica Moskal and Rachel.

Rachel learned about the fund at a difficult time for her family. A month after her father passed away, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“You lose one parent, and then you’re threatened with losing another. That’s a scary place to be,” Rachel said. “We were so involved in our own issues, I don’t think they were present.”

Rachel said her family was grateful for the memorial scholarship, and she wanted to be involved, so she helped craft one of the scholarships.

“I remember creating the profile of a person to get the scholarship that was similar to my dad,” Rachel said. “He was a broadcasting engineer, so I wanted it to go to someone following that path.”

IUSF announced the scholarships on Feb. 5, 2002. The scholarships began as three $1,000 awards but now each pay $1,500.

Then-IU Chancellor Sharon Brehm said the establishment of the scholarships could teach students to work  as citizens.

“These scholarships represent our solidarity with and caring about Josh, Jesse, Rachel and all the members of the IU family who lost loved ones on Sept. 11,” Brehm said in the Feb. 5, 2002 press release.

For Rachel, the scholarship honored her father’s life more than his death. He hadn’t attended college and had to work and struggle financially from a young age.

He had to self-study and receive on-job training to achieve his goals. Because of this, education was very important to him, and Rachel said a scholarship for higher education is a perfect way to honor his memory.

The scholarship’s continued existence also means a lot to Rachel.

“People don’t forget and move on, but with time, you think things are forgotten,” Rachel said. “My dad’s remembered. His name is living on. He’s giving people an opportunity for education — that was so important to him. Education and family — those were his pillars of life.”

With time and effort, Rachel and her family have learned to accept, if not forget. But Rachel said she wishes there was less emphasis on the attacks of Sept. 11 and more on the people.

“People look at Sept. 11 and think of death and loss,” Rachel said. “In a way, I wish they would remember the lives of the people that were lost. That’s what’s important — not how they died, but how they lived.”

She said the hardest part of each anniversary of the attacks is the national remembrance of sorrow, death and anger.

“My dad had a life,” Rachel said. “He had stories, not just one story.”

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