Isabella Jacobs

Northeast Reno, 89512

Story by Brad Cornelia

Almost every day, Isabella Jacobs finds the time to indulge in her favorite part of Reno. The Truckee River, temptingly located just blocks away from her work, rarely fails to coax her out of the office for some brief relaxation. Unfortunately, “brief” is definitely the key word since that moment of peace is fleeting. Saddled with the stresses of school and work, Isabella struggles to maintain balance as she strives towards success.

Isabella is currently employed as an administrative assistant at McGinnis and Associates, a local environmental consulting firm. Although she works with various people, the core company is quite small, boss included.

“Right now it’s just the three of us here and then we hire our consultants, hydrologists, you know,” says Isabella. “We have different specialists that kinda work with us as a team, but we’re the main ones here who do a lot of writing reports and all that stuff.”

The Reno Collective's office space is surrounded by large windows. One of its best features, according to Isabella, is the space's use of natural lighting.

The Reno Collective’s office space is surrounded by large windows. One of its best features, according to Isabella, is the space’s use of natural lighting.

McGinnis and Associates is located on the ground floor of Arlington Towers. The company operates in an office at the Reno Collective, which is a collaborative organization that attracts people who would normally work at home to socialize, interact, and occasionally even team up with one another. Despite living in Reno for 18 of her latter 20 years, Isabella is relatively new to the more urban environment of this downtown region.

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“I grew up in the northwest area,” says Isabella. “Moving downtown wasn’t as bad as I thought.”

In January of this year, Isabella decided to move in with her grandparents just north of the University of Nevada. For someone who had grown up in the in the northwest, downtown was admittedly lacking in some ways. The area is unsurprisingly urban, though perhaps to a fault.

“I like having more nature outlets by me or around me, and right in the town you can’t go anywhere in nature,” says Isabella. “Besides, you know, there’s the river, but nothing too secluded.”

Along with her affinity for the environment, Isabella’s appreciation for seclusion owes itself at least partially to her upbringing. The younger of two sisters, Isabella was raised by a single mother following a divorce that occurred when she was only two years old. Living in a low-income neighborhood, Isabella’s mother supported both children as a waitress for the casinos. The father still lived in the area at first and the children visited him regularly, but his involvement in their lives was limited.

“Our mom was our supporter, she was the only one to really support us financially and to be there for us emotionally,” says Isabella. “My mom’s a very loving and affectionate person and it kinda rubbed off on me and my sister too. We were all she had.”

Critical of the schools the children were set to be zoned for, Isabella’s mother homeschooled the two for their elementary education. During this time Isabella cultivated an interest in reading that eventually bloomed into a passion for writing that persists today. A student at the University of Nevada, Isabella has received several scholarships for her essays, which have paid for her first two years in college. Unfortunately, her obligations have threatened to suppress some of her skills and passions.

“I used to feel academically gifted, but this semester has kind of thrown me for a loop,” says Isabella.

As her sophomore year in colleges concludes, Isabella currently finds herself dealing with several uncomfortable transitions that are consuming her time. Originally intent on combining her skill at writing with her innate interest in the environment, Isabella soon learned that these aspects may not be professionally compatible. Although she wanted to use writing as a tool to help the environment and spur change, she eventually came to the conclusion that such a course of action would be relatively ineffective. Eventually she settled on studying environmental engineering, a decision of which has proven to be a double-edged sword, at least in the short run.

“It’s hard to keep up with your hobbies if you’re not in a creative degree since your creative outlets kinda go out the window,” says Isabella. “That’s something I’ve been struggling with and trying to find a balance between with my academic work.”

Isabella doing work just prior to leaving. McGinnis and Associates originally operated from home, but was moved to the Collective at the request of a previous employee.

Isabella doing work just prior to leaving. McGinnis and Associates originally operated from home, but was moved to the Collective at the request of a previous employee.

To compensate for her new academic major, Isabella recently attended winter classes, the highlight of which included learning precalculus at lightning speed. As a lingering side-effect of her homeschooling, Isabella has long found math challenging, at least relative to her academic strengths. To make matters worse, the random nature of her job was demanding a particularly large amount of work. Breaking up with her boyfriend of four years was simply the cherry on top of a stress sundae.

“All that was going on over Christmas break so it was a rough time for me,” says Isabella. “It’s looking up though.”

Isabella views her breakup as a good thing. Leaving on good terms, she feels that she had grown too comfortable with the remnants of her life at McQueen High School and was no longer growing individually. This thought process extends to her older friend group as well, of which did not join her at UNR. Though she insists that they will remain her friends, Isabella finds herself going through a transition of peers that though uncomfortable, is necessary with respect to her academic life and career choices. This reasoning is what encouraged her to move closer to the campus and her work.

Despite her recent and ongoing struggles, Isabella considers herself fortunate with respect to others in her demographic. Citing her living situation, which is a much cheaper alternative to the dorms, Isabella is particularly sympathetic to those who come up to Reno without the benefits that she has enjoyed.

“A lot of students are struggling,” says Isabella. “Especially those who don’t have family here.”

However, there exists a light at the end of the tunnel. For those that pull though, Reno is witnessing an evolving workforce that Isabella feels will welcome graduates with open arms. Startup Row, the name given to the stretch of First Street between Washington and Virginia, is a hotbed for employment potential.

“There’s some really interesting businesses growing here and offer a lot of opportunities for students,” says Isabella.

Even her chosen field of environmental engineering shows promise. Reno contains several other environmental firms, although none allegedly like McGuiness and Associates, along with various labs. The mining scene specifically is notable for prospective environmental engineers, as the presence of older mines creates a demand services such as reclamation and remediation. Regardless of its opportunities, Isabella does not plan on pursuing her career in Reno.

“I love Reno, but I definitely want to experience somewhere else,” says Isabella. “I think it’s really valuable experiencing living in other places instead of staying in the same place your whole life.”


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