JTC 24: Making His Mark

Jacob Marshall distinguished himself through academic excellence, public service

A young man wearing a suit and a baseball cap stands next to an iron fence.

This story is part of the 2024 Journey to Commencement series, which celebrates the pinnacle of the academic year by highlighting University of Mississippi students and their outstanding academic and personal journeys from college student to college graduate.

Jacob Marshall has never been one to shy away from a challenge. Even though he entered the University of Mississippi relatively unheralded, the interdisciplinary studies major, with emphases in neuroscience and psychology, has since earned a reputation for academic achievement and public service.

The Hernando native graduated from high school a year early in 2021 and enrolled for a year at Northwest Mississippi Community College. In the three years since, he has been inducted into eight honor societies, including the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, Ole Miss PTK Alumni and Golden Key International Honor Society. He's also served as treasurer for Type One to Type NONE!, a student-led organization that works to raise awareness of Type 1 diabetes, and is working to establish a campus chapter of Nu Rho Psi Honor Society, an honorary for students studying neuroscience.

He decided to enroll at the university because it offered him the flexibility to custom-build a major.


Jacob Marshall, who enrolled at the university because of the flexibility it offered, graduates in May with a bachelor's degree in neuroscience and psychology. He hopes to become a neurosurgeon and professor. Photo by Srijita Chattopadhyay/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

"Ole Miss also offered me the best opportunity to study my interests with amazing professors and enjoy a warm welcoming environment," he said. "I selected IDS because I was able to take courses from multiple departments and incorporate them into a singular field of study that was not originally offered by the university.

"I decided to add psychology as a major because I wanted to learn more about cognitive processes and expand my knowledge about the brain and mind."

During his first semester, Marshall discovered that getting into a routine of classes, meetings, pledging and focusing on his mental and physical health made for a daunting challenge. So, he decided to immediately enroll in a winter intersession course of Neuroanatomy and Neurophysiology of Speech and Hearing to try to get into the swing of things and form new study and living habits.

"This one course allowed me to really lock in my following semester because I knew how to study and prepare for future events, as well as balance my school and personal life" Marshall said.

William Heustess, Marshall's maternal grandfather from Batesville, provided a huge role model for him.

"'PawPaw' has been extremely helpful with me in how to go through life, budget my finances, follow my passion, think realistically and set goals for myself," Marshall said. "One incident I recall was when I was deciding on whether I wanted to be a first-generation college student or go into a trade like 90% of my family.

"He told me to always go for the impossible, because if I succeed in that, then nothing will ever be able to hold me back."

While at Ole Miss, several professors have become major influences for Marshall. They include Andrew Pfrenger, visiting general studies professor; Myriam Kornisch, assistant professor of communication sciences and disorders; and Brenton Laing, assistant professor of pharmacology.

"Dr. Pfrenger laid the foundation for my academia by introducing me to his IDS program and allowing me to have free range on my own interests and curriculum," Marshall said. "Dr. Kornisch helped me pave the way to success in my courses after my first semester at university.


Jacob Marshall credits his maternal grandfather for inspiring him as he worked to become the first in his family to earn a college degree. Submitted photo

"Dr. Laing allowed me to join his lab and learn the basics of how to conduct research and the basics of surgical techniques, making me feel welcomed and supported in my career goal."

After graduation, Marshall hopes to either land a research position at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis and study for the Medical College Admission Test or to attend Tulane University for a master's degree in neuroscience. His career goals are to become a neurosurgeon and neuroscience professor.

He aspires to conduct research in neuroembryology, investigating causes and preventions for neurological birth defects.

A quote that Marshall lives by, taken from the iconic film "Forrest Gump," is: "Life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you're gonna get."

"I selected this quote just because of how relatable it is with my everyday life," he said. "Every day, I experience something new, whether it be meeting new people, having new ideas, setting new expectations, coming into contact with new problems.

"This quote just reminds me that there are things in life that I cannot control, so I have to learn to adapt and overcome these new opportunities/obstacles that come my way."


Edwin Smith, University Marketing and Communications



April 27, 2024