This article was written by Aiden Wiseman who is a sophomore in Journalism Class. This article was written to acknowledge new staff at U-32.
When Jake Ploof was a sophomore at Eastern Nazarene College in Massachusetts, he took a trip to Ferguson, Missouri. Two years earlier, in August of 2014, Michael Brown Jr, an 18-year-old black man, was shot by a police officer.
Jake feels like the trip changed him. “I was pretty ignorant, is what I will say,” Jake said, “and I decided to go on that trip and cross the boundary of difference,” Jake said.
When he went to Ferguson, he saw that the media had shown a town plagued by protests, when it was a beautiful town. “I had my perceptions challenged about the world,” he said, “and issues of racial justice.”
“As I continued on through college, I experienced interacting with people from a lot more diverse backgrounds than I had been growing up with.” Jake said, “ I learned that the truth is a much more complex thing than I thought it had been before.”
Just a few years after his trip to Ferguson, Jake Ploof is U-32’s new 7th-grade counselor. He grew up in South Burlington and found his love for counseling in his senior year of high school. He joined an after-school program working with middle and elementary kids and found his love for working with them in a school environment. Jake went to Massachusetts for college and majored in psychology. Then he went to UVM for grad school to become a counselor.
“I think I always just really liked the idea of being able to listen to people and hear their stories,” he said.
Since the start of the year, Jake has been trying to meet with all the new 7th graders. “I’ll just pull them in my office here and sort of talk about me,” Jake said, “and what ways I can help them and get to know them a little bit.”
His parents tried to get him into sports as a kid, but he just didn’t like them. He liked sitting inside and playing video games. He loves games like The Legend of Zelda or The Elder Scrolls. He also owns a dog, a black lab; Azura, named after a character from The Elder Scrolls.
He had put thought into where he wanted to be a counselor. Places like San Diego or Phoenix, Arizona, but now he’s back in Vermont, just trying to live in the moment.
“It can be tough thinking about the future and worrying about things all the time,” he said, ”And now that I have this job I just really want to appreciate it as much as I can and enjoy the journey.”