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Jack Laden is a senior from Dayton, Ohio who will be joining our Winterline nine-month gap year program cohort next Fall. A passionate writer, Jack is eager to be inspired by the global perspective that he hopes to gain through his travels.

Looking forwrd to learning from both the challenges and the triumphs of his upcoming Gap Year, Jack embraces the opportunity to gain a clearer sense of direction and an understanding of other cultures, both crucial in his development as a writer and as a young adult. Believe it or not, before he decided to pursue his admiration for the pen and page, his dream was to be a MMA fighter!  While it may no longer be at the forefront of his career aspirations, Jack still continues to work towards his blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. After his Winterline journey, Jack is considering attending either Colorado College or Denver University studying Creative Writing and Audio Engineering. He hopes to become a poet/author or writer, and music producer.

I loved getting to know Jack and listening to him profess his passion for writing. Do you want to know more about Jack? Check out our interview below!


Remember, it is not too late to join Jack and his other fellow Winterliners on their Gap Year next Fall. Apply today! Spots are filling quickly.


Q: What do you hope to gain from your Winterline experience? 

A: I could go on and on about the numerous skills and lessons I hope to learn from Winterline, but for the sake of space, I'll keep my answer focused on what I am calling the "big two." From Winterline, I hope to gain not only a greater global perspective, but also inspiration/direction for my writing. Within the last year, I have honed my skills as a writer and decided that I wanted to make a career out of pen and page, (or in this case: Chromebook) but I don't yet have a solid direction for what I want to do with my skills. I'm hoping that through the Winterline experience, the next step on my journey will present itself to me, as long as I keep my eyes, ears, and heart open.

As far as a global perspective goes, it's pretty simple. You can't be a truly great writer in any field without a deep understanding of other people and other cultures. How can one truly know themselves, and their own culture, without first knowing the differences in culture on a earth-sized scale? And that is what I hope to gain from Winterline.


Q: What are you most excited for during your Winterline travels?

A: I'm extremely excited to meet and bond with the other individuals on the program, whose many unique life paths all led them to the same place: Winterline. I want to hear their stories, I want to be a part of their stories, and who knows? Maybe write their stories! I'm also excited to learn about living outdoors, because to this point, I have very little knowledge and even less experience in that area.


Q: Why did you decide to go on a gap year and why did you choose Winterline?

A: I originally decided to go on a gap year because I didn't quite feel ready for college and I thought that the best thing for me to do to spark a fire under myself was to take a gap year. I wanted to, for the first time in perhaps my whole life, do something for my own personal growth that I wanted to do. Something that nobody told me I should do. Basically I wanted to do something I always wanted to do in order to inspire myself.

After doing research, Winterline was the only program that synchronized with the type of experience I was trying to find. I wanted to experience the most life I could experience in nine months. So really there was no decision, Winterline called out to me and I responded, "Yes."


Q: Have you traveled in the past? Where have you traveled and what has been your favorite destination? 

A: I've traveled to multiple states within the U.S.--Colorado, Michigan, Florida, West Virginia, New York, Indiana, Illinois, Wyoming, Connecticut, and Rhode Island to name a handful. My international travel is limited to France, which was a family trip I experienced when I was too young to remember, and Guatemala, where I visit every summer for service work. My favorite destination has to be Guatemala because I get to work with inspired teenagers my age. Teenagers who chose to do service in Guatemala, not because they have to, but because they want to. And because I get to see, and in a limited sense, experience, an entirely different reality faced by individuals all across the globe. It's not a vacation, it's an experience that you will remember for a life time, and it was one of the things that made me decide I wanted to go on Winterline.


Q: What experience do you think will be the most challenging? 

A: I think traveling to India will be the most challenging experience. This is because, from what I've heard from those I know who have gone there, it is a difficult place to live. I've heard that the conditions are unbelievably poor in many places, that the culture is completely foreign to our own, and that it opens your eyes to an extremely harsh reality that cannot be explained, only experienced. Although it will be challenging, in many ways it's something I'm most excited about, because I feel India is the place I will grow the most, as a person and as a writer.


Q: What do you see yourself doing in the next 5-10 years? 

A: I see myself, writing/producing music, whether that be for film, or for a label. Either that or being poet/author. If I'm being honest, however,  I don't think I'll really fully know until I experience Winterline.


Q: What is the most interesting thing that you have done in the past four years?

A: The most interesting thing I have done in the past four years is probably to perform my poem at my school talent show, as it was a huge hit. I wrote a poem called "Sleep Talking" about my experience in school and with being diagnosed with narcolepsy. It seemed to blow a lot of people away, which was what I had hoped for. It was awesome to visualize the way my performance was going to happen, and then have the reality exceed my expectations. I'm currently working on getting the poem copyrighted. I'm also working on producing a full length music project with my friends at school, and hope to complete it by the time I leave for Winterline.



Q: FUN Facts!

A: Before my interest in writing, my dream was to be a professional MMA fighter! I loved martial arts. Today, I still am passionate about martial arts, but I am much more focused on my other passions: writing and music. I'm currently working on getting my blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, I was on my school wrestling team for three years, and I've been boxing from the time I was eight.

I don't have a favorite music genre, but my favorite groups/artists are Raury, Kid Cudi, Ratatat, The Rocket Summer and Dizzy Wright.

Also, I was a Nintendo kid. My favorite game will always be Super Smash Bros. Plus... I can't be beat!


Q: Anything else we should know about you?

A: I'm looking at attending either Colorado College or Denver University in the fall of 2017, studying Creative Writing and Audio Engineering.