Peter Gaskamp

Anything but a straight path

Peter Gaskamp’s college path initially took many turns. Now, this JCCC graduate is headed straight to a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Kansas.

After high school graduation in 2001, Gaskamp enrolled at a four-year university. That lasted one year because, he said, he lacked interest in studying. He moved to Texas and later attended a community college there.

“I did okay as a student, but I didn’t have any direction,” Gaskamp recalled. “I lacked an interest in anything in particular. So, I quit college and did other things for a while.”

Gaskamp said he finally got to a point in his life when he realized where his life was heading if he didn’t further his education.

“I knew I needed to get back into the classroom,” he said. “Once I did, something clicked this time. I was motivated. I knew why I was there. I wanted to do well. I also had a better understanding that I was spending money for this education so I was going to get the absolute most I could from the experience. I didn’t have that perspective when I was 19.”

When Gaskamp first started at JCCC, he focused on studying and making good grades. He initially overlooked opportunities for involvement.

“Steven Giambrone, associate professor, science, was one of my instructors who encouraged me to get involved on campus,” Gaskamp said. “I dragged my feet because I was mainly here to study hard and get good grades. But he finally convinced me that it would be good for me to get involved. He encouraged me to join the Student Environmental Alliance. That opened the floodgates for me. All of a sudden opportunities started to open up and I got involved in other groups and committees on campus, including the Student Sustainability Committee and Cavalier Leadership Development program.”

It was that involvement in JCCC sustainability efforts that lead to Gaskamp’s interest in transferring on to a four-year university to pursue a degree in civil engineering with emphasis in environmental studies.

“JCCC’s sustainability efforts are student-supported and administration-endorsed,” Gaskamp said. “I think JCCC is really on the edge of student involvement with sustainability efforts. The green fee is amazing, and I don’t think that exists on many other campuses. From the research I’ve seen, sustainability projects are really on the forefront here.”

Looking back at his JCCC experience, Gaskamp said he grew in many ways.

“One, I am typically not very social or outspoken, but connecting with others in my extracurricular roles helped me communicate better with people,” he said. “Also, my academic success encourages me to do more. It is self-esteem building. I think being involved and being successful in the classroom plays into the whole college experience.”