Rural Iowa and urban San Diego may seem worlds apart, but for Northwestern student Jeron Jache, both are places he considers home.
Although leaving Southern California for several years to pursue higher education in the Midwest is not uncommon, Jache’s story is particularly unique.
Jache is 32 years old, yet he is determined to finish a college experience that was never fully manifested.
“I went to college for a few years then decided to take a semester or two off,” Jache said. “Then it eventually turned into ten years. Both of my sisters and my brother graduated from college, so I felt like I should go back to school and get my degree out of pride.”
Growing up in urban San Diego, Jache attended an all-boys Catholic high school before starting college. He worked full time for almost a decade with the intent of finishing his degree someday.
But it wasn’t until his brother, a graduate from NW, started a marketing company in Los Angeles that Jache began planning the next chapter of his life.
“I chose NW because my brother went here,” Jache said. “He played baseball and graduated in ‘05 or ‘06. He had a great experience out here and has good friendships. And he’s the one that put the idea of coming to Iowa in my head. I might have been swallowed up by a larger state school, so being with a small private school really helps you out.”
The actual decision to commit to NW took some time, but he had support from both his brother and his dad.
“The official decision was about six months ago, give or take,” Jache said. “My dad knows all the NAIA as well as the D2 and D3 schools in the nation, so I kind of put it in his hand, and this is what we came up with.”
Being older than most students on campus has been a minor adjustment for Jache, although he is welcoming the challenge.
“Initially I had a little anxiety — but just a little,” Jache said. “But everyone has been so welcoming, so the anxiety disappeared. Getting into the things academically will probably be the biggest challenge. I just need to apply myself.”
Between football and dorm life, the California native is quickly adjusting to small-college living. His initial roommate had to transfer to another dorm for work-related reasons, but Jache still gets a lot out of living in Colenbrander Hall.
“Everyone has the door open playing FIFA and watching Netflix,” Jache said. “It’s a cool dorm. We’ve got some characters — it’s a lot of fun. When I was eighteen, I wasn’t near as mature as the guys out here, and I have to give them a lot of credit. These kids are beyond mature with their beliefs and actions.”
“From what I can tell, the guys have really warmed up to Jeron,” said Dustin Hamm, Colenbrander Hall Resident Director. “I think that guys were curious as to why he was living here at first, but they have really welcomed him. I know the guys on the football team have enjoyed having him on the team as well.”
Due to recently transferring to NW, Jache is redshirting for the 2014 football season. He hopes to continue what he started athletically several years ago.
“It’s good to get the momentum back and play for a few more years after this,” Jache said. “I didn’t think I’d get a second chance, so I’m savoring it.”
After completing his business administration degree, Jache plans to return to Southern California to his family, his girlfriend and his brother’s marketing business.
“In the future I think I’ll go back home to California and put this degree to work,” Jache said. “I’ll probably jump on board with my brother’s marketing company. But I’m sure I’ll make lifelong friends here, and I hope to take some of these Christian values back to California with me. It’s a blessing knowing I made the right choice coming here.”