This is the sixth in our series of stories celebrating the outstanding accomplishments of youth in our community. These inspirational young adults are enriching our lives with their passion and commitment to the betterment of society.
You’d never know from his unassuming, humble and polite demeanor that Jake is an accomplished athlete and musician, a straight-A student (with a 97% average) and a student leader. But after our meeting with him at the Starbucks in Oak Bay village, it became apparent to us that Jake is a very talented and compassionate young man. Whether it be busking on government street to raise funds for his piano and vocal lessons, or volunteering in Mexico to help the less fortunate, Jake is passionate about what he does and an inspiration to those around him.
Jake was born in Australia, near Brisbane in the small town of Nambour, Queensland and he moved to Canada at 6 months of age with his mother and brother Talen, both of whom continue to inspire him. His closeness to, and admiration of his older brother (who is attending the University of Victoria) were obvious. He told us that his brother was “a hard act to follow”, having served as valedictorian for his graduating class and receiving the prestigious Merit Cup in Grade 12 at Oak Bay High School. We were left wondering if Talen would have told us the opposite if we had interviewed him instead! Jake’s maturity and accomplishments to date certainly set a very high standard.
Jake is in Grade 12 at Oak Bay High, having attended the Lansdowne middle school french immersion program prior to that. He’s loaded up his timetable with Math 12 (AP), three Science 12 classes and Physics 11 through SIDES. Yet Jake still finds time to participate in numerous other activities including Peer Counseling, the Environment Club, coaching volleyball and he is a co-leader of Oak Bay High’s Best Buddy Program. Jake recently joined the debate club. Led by Mr. Tim Bradshaw, the Oak Bay Debate Club has a rich history and hosts the annual Golden Gnome debate tournament in December. In Grade 11 Jake took on a Youth Philanthropy initiative as a Planning 11 project. This involved choosing a charity, giving presentations and competing with others to receive a cash prize for the charity. Jake chose LifeRing, which is an organization that provides community-based support groups for people struggling with drug and alcohol dependency. His pitch, in slam poem format, took him to the finals.
Sports have played a significant role in Jake’s development. He played baseball competitively for many years, volleyball from Grade 6 to Grade 10 (making it to the Nationals in Grade 8). An unfortunate injury during a volleyball game a few years ago (which resulted in a separated shoulder that later required surgery), has sidelined him from that sport. Nevertheless, to stay physically active, Jake has taken up cross country and track this year.
When asked from where he gets inspiration, his answer was his mother and father, his teachers Mr. Brent Garraway and Ms. Tessa Kubicek, “the most inspirational people I’ve ever met”, and “music”.
Jake’s passion is music. It would be his dream to be able to make a living as a musician, “doing what I love the most”. Jake played percussion in band during middle school and his earlier high school years. A singer and songwriter, he taught himself guitar and started busking on government Street during the summer. He saved up his earnings from busking to purchase music recording software in addition to paying for his piano and voice lessons. Jake describes his genre of music as a combination of soul, folk and acoustic hip hop. His musical influences include Ed Sheeran, The Script, Sam Smith and Hedley. Jake plans to pursue a music degree at the University of Victoria starting next year.
An experience that took place in March 2014 when Jake was in Grade 11 had a huge impact on his life. A group of 34 Oak Bay High School students took a trip to Mexico on a “Hero Holiday”. The students raised $34,000.00 for the trip and over a period of 10 days, they built two houses for Mexican families. The effect on Jake was profoundly emotional and he had a hard time explaining to us how much it meant to him. He got to know a family whose home he helped build and learned how they were content, despite having so little material wealth, especially compared to the luxuries we enjoy in Canada, “they have a fraction of what we have but they are some of the happiest people I’ve seen”. Before he left Mexico, Jake wrote a letter to himself about the experience. He recently received the letter in the mail from Mexico. For Jake, rereading the words that he had previously written was an extremely moving experience. He told us the time in Mexico was an “indescribable experience” and “it changed me”. Jake hopes to once again undertake another Hero Holiday in the not too distant future.
Jake is truly a remarkable young man who has so much to give – and he does so with a big heart. Thank you Jake for all that you do to enrich the lives of those around you.
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