Profile: On the road with SNU’s Jake Peterson

Jake+Peterson+poses+wiht+a+friend+during+a+van+adventure.+Peterson+decided+to+make+the+most+of+the+quarantine+by+hitting+the+road.

Courtesy of Jake Peterson

Jake Peterson poses wiht a friend during a van adventure. Peterson decided to make the most of the quarantine by hitting the road.

Brayden Stephenson, Editor

Amidst the Coivd-19 pandemic many students are wondering if going back to school, only to sit on a computer all day, is really worth it? For Jake Peterson, Sierra Nevada University sophomore and his friends, the answer seemed clear, so they hit the road. No schedule or maps, just a van littered with everything needed for a great adventure. Surf here, then climb over there. As they make way towards the interstate, only one question is on Petersons mind, “Where will we go next?”

“It was pretty crazy how it all happened, two of my friends had decided to take a gap year and they invited me to come along,” Peterson said. “The online courses in the spring were miserable for me and I just couldn’t go through that again.”

A brutal fight with coronavirus kicked off the summer for Peterson and his family, ultimately influencing his decision to go back to school. The obligations of college can feel suffocating, especially with the pressure of all online classes. Peterson found this year to be the perfect opportunity for an adventure of a lifetime: To start in New Hampshire then traversing the United States until they found themselves captured by the beauty of the West Coast, where they are currently exploring.

“I just wasn’t happy at home anymore so my parents were really supportive when I asked to go on this trip instead of going to school this year,” Peterson said. “My dad also took a gap year when he was this age and I’m thankful that I’m doing the same. It’s helped me to reassess what I want to do with my education and what I want my next few years to look like. I think going on this road trip has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”

Peterson is not alone in this decision either. The Los Angeles Times is calling 2020 “The biggest-ever gap year for college students,” and the gapyearassociation.org is seeing up to 300% more traffic than usual. Like Peterson, many students are craving tangible and authentic college experiences that this year just won’t be able to offer, so they’re seeking that outside the confines of Zoom.

“I think that this trip has taught me a lot about myself,” Peterson said. “I realized that I really love to make connections with different people and all of this traveling has allowed for that. It’s all the little stops in small towns that seem insignificant that have really left a positive impact. I think these experiences would’ve been hard to come by even if we were on campus this semester.”

No matter the unforeseen circumstances of this year, Peterson maintains a positive outlook on his situation.

“This all really worked out for the better,” Peterson said. “This year was truly a blessing in disguise.”