It’s not often that you meet someone who can speak three different languages. However, Jamille Palacios Rivera does just that. She speaks Spanish and English fluently, but it’s her talent for speaking and understanding economics that earned her a position as an assistant teaching professor of agricultural and applied economics.
Palacios earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in economics at the University of Puerto Rico and her PhD in Food and Resource Economics at the University of Florida. Prior to teaching at MU, Palacios served as a professor at a community college in Indiana where she taught economic analysis for four years. She also worked at the Department of Treasury in Puerto Rico, as an economic and financial analyst.
“I like economics so much that it doesn’t matter what I do with it; I’ll be happy no matter what,” Palacios said. “Teaching, sharing or applying.”
Palacios tries to always encourage students to be proactive in college and to become productive citizens.
“She made me rethink graduate school,” said Aaron Luther, a teaching assistant for Palacios.
Palacios said the most rewarding thing about her job is being a part of students’ development and success.
“I want my students to understand the context of economics in their daily lives and how they apply concepts and principals to contribute to their employers, and further the overall economy,” she said.
Palacios long-term plans include teaching at MU for many years.
“I see this as my new home,” Palacios said. “I’m looking forward to making this my home and retiring from MU in the future.”
When she’s not teaching her students about economics, Palacios enjoys spending time with her 6-year-old daughter, Janelly Lasanta-Palacios; her husband, Angel Noel Lasanta; and their cat, Pete, whom they rescued last year.
Palacios grew up in Puerto Rico with her parents and five siblings. She remembers walking over a mile to school and having no transportation or school bus system in the urban areas of Puerto Rico.
“I didn’t have it all when I was a kid. Having to work and be determined to walk to school every day made me who I am,” Palacios said. “I believe that every person goes through life cycles. There are seasons where you experience contractions, growth, and then reach peaks, just like business cycles.”
Palacios moved to the U.S. in 2002 and has been living in Columbia since this past August. During her time in Columbia, she has visited various churches in town and is thinking about becoming an active member of Christian Fellowship Church, where she hopes to find an opportunity to serve.
Palacios said the most important thing to her in life is, “To serve — submit, care and provide, work to perform well, be useful and helpful — at home, in the community and in the workplace.”
It’s very important to Palacios that she takes the opportunity to spend time with kids and get involved in the community.
“My daughter and I started an after-school Spanish club, in which I have over some of my daughter’s friends and I teach them Spanish.”
Palacios is also looking into starting an after-school tennis club with her husband, Noel, to whom she has been married for 19 years.
“I can count on my wife for everything,” he said. “She would set everything aside to support both her daughter and I. My wife has a big heart. She likes to help others and when she does help somebody, she feels happy.”
It’s hard to imagine how Palacios balances so many things in her life: teaching college classes, being active in a church, volunteering her time in the community. Somehow, like a true tiger, she manages to do all of these things and still go above and beyond in other areas as well.
“She is sweet and kind to other people,” said Janelly, Palacios’s daughter. “She’s brave, and she makes good breakfast!”