Stories
The Class of 2019: Jacob Torkelson, HPSV, ’19

The Class of 2019: Jacob Torkelson, HPSV, ’19

Student spotlight: Jacob Torkelson, HPSV, ’19

By Lauren Hertzler

When Jacob Torkelson was in high school, the Saint Paul, Minn.-native visited Philmont Scout Ranch, covering a portion of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in northern New Mexico. A life-changing experience indeed, Torkelson spent three following summers as a backpacking guide in the region.

“It was a lot of fun,” Torkelson says, “and it shaped my desire to go to preservation school.”

Torkelson, who has his undergraduate degree in architecture from the University of Minnesota, joined Penn’s graduate program in historic preservation last fall. Set to graduate this spring, he says his experience so far has been nothing short of rewarding.

“I think if you ask most preservationists at Penn, they don’t know directly what they want to do when they leave,” says Torkelson. “It’s a wonderful thing. You come into the program convinced you know what you want to do afterward, and come out knowing so much more. You want to change the world in so many ways.”

Although he’s been drawn to more remote places for his studies—this summer, for instance, he interned at the cultural resource division of Redwood National and State Parks—Torkelson appreciates being in bustling Philadelphia for graduate school, with its diverse and robust stock of historic resources.

“A lot of classes offer field visits or hands-on workdays,” he says. “It’s great to get out there and see preservation in action. Being able to work in a laboratory like Philadelphia is incredible.”

Jacob Torkelson is a 2018-19 recipient of the Albert Binder Memorial Fellowship, given annually to a graduating student in the Program of Historic Preservation, as well as the Jane Marrow Fellowship, supporting a graduate student studying the preservation of historic buildings and landscapes in the School of Design