Jacqueline Arnold’s graduation was a long time coming.
Many members of the Class of 2020 were in diapers when Arnold started her journey to become a Temple graduate.
“Jackie started taking classes one at a time in 1999,” says Debbie Campbell, senior vice dean at the Fox School. “She’s been taking one class at a time for 20 years.”
Arnold is a fixture in the Fox School community. As a senior administrative specialist, she is the welcoming face in the Dean’s Office. Affectionately known as “Ms. Jackie” to many of the students, staff and faculty, Arnold has made the Dean’s Office—and the school—a brighter place with her kindness, empathy and megawatt smile.
Arnold started at Fox in 1994 after having been placed there by a temp agency. She worked in the dean’s office before interviewing for—and receiving—a full-time job offer. She had several credits from her previous matriculation at Virginia State but, as is often the case, life happened.
“I always wanted to complete my education, says Arnold. “It took so long that it felt out of reach.” But with encouragement from many faculty and staff throughout the school, she picked up one class per semester, juggling both her job and her young children. She passes on advice she received from her mother: “Never say that you can’t do it. If you try and fail, that’s okay. But never start off saying you can’t.”
Now, Arnold is a proud Temple University alumna. On May 7, she received her Bachelor of Art in Religion from Temple University’s College of Liberal Arts.
“Religion is my passion. I love God, I love doing His work. I love to show Him in my life. It makes me know that I’ve done good, I’ve lived well and I’ve impacted so many young people along the way,” says Arnold.
While the university’s in-person Commencement was postponed due to the coronavirus, dozens of members of the Fox community gathered virtually to celebrate Arnold’s accomplishment. It included congratulatory videos collected from faculty and staff around the school.
“She is the personification of Temple’s motto, Perseverance Conquers,” says Deanna Geddes, associate dean of graduate programs. Kathleen Davis, assistant professor of Human Resource Management, called Arnold “everything from Wonder Woman to Mission Control.” Amanda Barber, senior associate director of scheduling, summed it up: “She is a role model.”
Arnold thanked her Fox colleagues with tears in her eyes, saying that she loves coming to work because of the community of people at the school. “You have cheered me on, you have brightened my day every day.”
“I am so thankful to Temple for affording me the opportunity to get this degree, something I started when I was a teenager,” says Arnold. “I promised myself and I promised God that if he kept me healthy and kept me strong, that I would keep moving. Here I am today, Temple Made, Temple Proud. I am an alumna and I am blessed.”