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Photos courtesy of Jake Whiteside

Bucking tradition, family man Jake Whiteside graduates with neuroscience, Chinese combo

The only traditional characteristic of Jake Whiteside, a graduating senior at IUPUI, is his age.

Before coming to campus, Whiteside was home-schooled. He moved out at 17 years old to fix up a mobile home, plumbing included, for the woman who became his wife shortly after his 18th birthday. Just weeks shy of commencement, he already has two young children. He'll also have two degrees, and even they aren't a common combination.

It would be easy to think that a trailblazer has to travel alone. In Whiteside's case, however, his success along nontraditional paths has been achieved largely with limitless support from those around him.

"The Honors College has been crucial to my schooling, kind of like the crux of my schooling," Whiteside said. "Coming from my home-school background, a lot of that time was spent … I wouldn't say in dire financial straits, but along those lines."

Whiteside, who is majoring in neuroscience and Chinese, is a recipient of the Chancellor's Scholarship, without which he likely wouldn't have been able to afford college at all. He's also taken advantage of the Honors College's study abroad stipend and the Confucius Institute's scholarship, which not only allowed him to travel to China, but also to take his growing family with him.

During his month in Guangzhou, Xi'An and Beijing, Whiteside took language and culture classes with the rest of the traveling party. The language classes paid off in, of course, a less-than-traditional way

"I like to measure my Chinese proficiency by the fact that I was able to buy and resell a bicycle in China. I didn't make any money, but I did buy and resell one because my wife really wanted one," said Whiteside, whose kids are now nearly 3 years old and 7 months old. "We had a bike with a front seat for my daughter, May, and an extra back seat, and we all were on this little rickety bike. It was ridiculous, but it was a lot of fun, and I managed to resell it. I guess I'm good at Chinese."

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Read the full story at IU News