A San Diegan, mother, sociologist, feminist, warrior for social justice, and a comedian, Leyenda Jacobson describes herself as an “urban explorer.”
Daughter of a free-spirited, teacher mother and a criminal defense attorney father, Leyenda was born in what most would call a hippie commune. During her early years, Leyenda and her mother moved frequently but ultimately settled in San Diego. She attended high school for three years, one year at San Luis Obispo High while living with her father, and two years at Abraxas High in Poway while living with her mother. “My mother was like Elizabeth Taylor – she married six times. I had lots of stepfathers,” says Leyenda. The effects of having many stepfathers took a toll on Leyenda, and part of her teen years were spent as a homeless runaway and she was even institutionalized for a time. But like many people, she came to terms with her childhood experiences and worked to develop a healthy relationship with her mother, who passed away in late 2011.
Leyenda’s childhood circumstances were not the ideal, and she was forced to grow up quickly; three days shy of her twenty-first birthday, she gave birth to her daughter, Nephtali. This event inspired Leyenda to re-start college. With a new and revived sense of intellectual curiosity and inner motivation, she enrolled at MiraCosta College.
Leyenda’s long connection to MiraCosta began almost immediately. She met her soul mate, Brian Harris, while taking a summer anthropology course, and she discovered her passion for sociology. Partly due to classes she took with Bruce Hoskins, PhD and Karen Baum, MA, “I was dedicated to sociology as I left MiraCosta College and transferred to Cal State San Marcos.”
Leyenda graduated from MiraCosta College in 2005 and Brian followed her a year later. Both Leyenda and Brian attended Cal State San Marcos, where they received their bachelor’s degrees in 2008, and their master’s degrees in sociological practice. “We really set a good foundation for ourselves and share a unique perspective on life. We grew as sociologists and as life partners,” says Leyenda.
Leyenda started teaching at MiraCosta College in 2011, not just because MiraCosta College is the number-one draft pick of colleges, but mostly because of the bond she and Brian have with Dr. Bruce Hoskins. Starting off as a joke, Leyenda teased Dr. Hoskins that when she received her master’s degree she would come back to MiraCosta College. “It was a joke then, but now it’s a reality,” she says. Shortly after taking on a position as associate faculty at MiraCosta, Leyenda and Brian wed in Las Vegas, NV.
Teaching statistics for the behavioral sciences really opened doors for Leyenda; she was one of the first women in her department to teach the subject at MiraCosta College. Her life was transformed when she started teaching statistics and her mother died from cancer. “I know my mother was proud to see me graduate with my master’s degree and become a professor,” says Leyenda, “It gives me a sense of peace, knowing that she could see me make something of my life. I loved her, she was a traveling spirit, an educator and a revolutionary.”
After her mother passed away, Leyenda was left without a lot of family – just her husband and daughter – but found a larger one within the MiraCosta Sociology Department. “The family I have here is something that I had never known because my mother and I moved around a lot. Growing up, I didn’t know what it was like to build or maintain long-term bonds with people, but now I do,” says Leyenda. And happily, her husband works alongside her as a sociology colleague. “I’m glad that Brian could be included in this love fest!” she added.
Leyenda credits welfare support, the Section 8-Rental Assistance Program, and most importantly, the supportive staff and faculty at MiraCosta and CSU San Marcos as contributing factors to her educational and professional success