Dr. Rebecca Jaroff || Recovering Voices

Vaughn DiBattista (vadibattista@ursinus.edu)

Dr. Rebecca Jaroff has taught literature and English courses at Ursinus College for 21 years. She graduated from Ursinus in 1981 with a degree in English and a minor in Communications. After college, Jaroff spent ten successful years at 6ABC as a production manager, however, she fell out of love with the profession. “It just wasn’t fulfilling me anymore, I was in my early 30s and I thought, if I don’t make a change now, then I’m never going to be able to.” 

From there, Dr. Jaroff attended graduate school at the University of Delaware, earning her P.h.D. while working as a teaching assistant. “I really loved teaching college students, and I’m so grateful for Ursinus for giving me that start in my life both times around…. I just fell in love with teaching, which was a real surprise to me because I swore I’d never teach.” 

Besides being an educator, Dr. Jaroff is also a wife, a mother, and a (new) grandmother. When she’s not in the classroom, she can be found hiking, swimming, and even traveling. 

To think of a world where Dr. Jaroff wasn’t a teacher frightens me, as she introduced me to the wonderful aspects of the English major. Her teaching styles are rather unorthodox, and she excels at getting the entire class involved. Every class is filled with discussion and dialogue, focusing on what the students have to say. “We, the English department, care so much about making sure students feel engaged and that they have a voice in everything that happens,” Dr. Jaroff exclaimed. 

Throughout her time as a professor, Dr. Jaroff has taught topics that are bigger than English, as she educates others on the topics of race, gender, inequality, and much more. Dr. Jaroff uses English as an avenue to teach about real-world problems, gearing her students to be the change the world so desperately needs. “I was just struck by the misrepresentation of race in the novels we read in class. I think it’s just so important for students to encounter these ideas and think about them and understand historical context.”  

What really struck me is Dr. Jaroff’s call to teach women’s literature. “Teaching women’s literature is about recovering voices. Those women from past centuries were always writing, and earlier literary scholars, mostly white men, belittled them, and silenced them. I wanted to help recover those voices.”

After twenty-one successful years of teaching and inspiring, Dr. Jaroff has decided to call it a career. “While I’m still in good health, and relatively young, I want to see what else is out there. I want to explore. So, when people ask me, what am I going to do? My go-to answer is: I don’t know.” And she is content with that. 

Dr. Jaroff is excited to go on new adventures, and to spend time with her grandchildren who keep her very busy. While it is hard to imagine Ursinus without her, the students and myself wish Dr. Jaroff an amazing retirement.