Robeson Community College

Alumni Spotlight: Rob Jacobs, Class of 2003

Rob Jacobs, a Robeson County native, has made a career out of working with and empowering Native Americans.  Jacobs, a 2003 graduate of Robeson Community College, has a long history of enriching the lives of not just the Lumbee Native Americans but also other Native American Tribes.  Jacobs currently works for an Alaska Native Corporation as their national tribal business development executive and is an advisor to President Trump regarding Native American issues of importance.

It was shortly after graduation that Jacobs began his career working with Native Americans. “After leaving RCC, I worked at a few computer repair shops in the region, but I found my passion for helping the youth of the Lumbee tribe through my volunteer work at N.C. Indian Cultural Center,” Jacobs said.  Using that passion, he formed the Lumbee Tribe’s Youth Program with others help, including Rebekah Revels Lowery, Foundation Director at RCC.

“I was so grateful to Rob and John Oxendine for implementing the Lumbee Tribe Youth Program. The program was a huge success and became the catalyst for multiple avenues of involvement for Lumbee youth, the annual pow-wow “Dance of the Spring Moon”, and involvement of a youth track program at the United Tribes annual conference,” Lowery Said. “I am grateful for Rob’s leadership while at the Lumbee Tribe and now in his roles within all Native American communities.”

Once the youth program was established, Jacobs continue to bring resources to the area.  In 2004 he brought the Boys and Girls Clubs of America program to the Lumbee tribe and founded the Lumbee Spring Powwow, the largest powwow on the East Coast today.

After working in the tribal youth program, he transferred over to the tribe’s housing program to learn additional skills. He brought the 184 Indian Loan guarantee program to the tribe through a chance encounter at a conference.  “I became the #1 loan processor for HUD’s Office of Native American Programs in the entire country, helping dozens of Lumbee families achieve the American dream,” Jacobs said.

After a few years in Lumbee tribal housing, Jacobs had the opportunity to move to Connecticut to work for the wealthiest tribe in the country, the Mashantucket Pequot, at Foxwoods Casino in the host/ player development department. As a casino host, it was his job to take care of the wealthiest of the players and keep them coming back to the casino. “This had many benefits, one of which was the chance to sit down and pick the brain of these very successful people. These conversations changed my thinking, and I’ve used this new-found power of positive thinking over the years to create a pretty interesting career,” said Jacobs.

From Connecticut, he moved to Philadelphia to become a player development executive at Harrah’s.  From there, he moved to Florida to become the manager of player development for the Seminole Tampa resort/casino. While working at Seminole, Jacobs saw a new tribal magazine job posting that he said ended up changing his life.  Jacobs applied and became the national manager of business development for the Tribal Business Journal, the only tribally focused business magazine in America at the time.

He has met and befriended most every major mover and shaker in Indian Country business circles during his two years with the journal. Using those connections, Jacobs says he has created multiple business opportunities for tribes and native business owners. Fast forward four years in Indian Country business, and I now work for an Alaska Native Corporation as their national tribal business development executive from my home in Orlando, Florida and I’m also an advisor to President Trump regarding Native American issues of importance.

Jacobs credits his start to RCC.  At the age of 24, and after a six-year stint in the U.S. Air Force and Air Force Reserves, he knew he wanted to further his education but wasn’t sure where to begin. “After weighing the educational options in my community, clearly RCC was the clear choice for several reasons including financial value, flexibility so he could continue to work full time as well as the cutting-edge Information technology program with top notch I.T. professionals as professors.

Jacobs looks back at his time at RCC fondly. He says his best memories are of the staff. “From the late John Oxendine, who taught basic computing and would entertain us with stories of his classmate Michael Jordan while at UNC, to Ms. Ivey, who taught many of my networking classes and never allowed us to give up, to Ms. Pam Locklear in the business office who always offered a warm smile and a caring spirit, I will never forget how they made me feel as a student,” Jacobs said.

*Article written by Maureen Metzger (mmetger@robeson.edu) and appeared in The Robesonian.

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