From Rebellious Teenager to Thriving College Student

By Rachel Gobep

Jared Vanasdale, a senior mechanical engineering major, has transformed from a rebellious teenager to a thriving student at Youngstown State University. He attributed his current success to grit and hard work.

“When I was in high school and middle school, I was not focused on school at all or even cared about my future,” Vanasdale said.

He said he had a reputation of being “one of the bad kids.”

“I consistently got in trouble. Not only in school, but outside of school. That was really because I was kind of a punk overall,” Vanasdale said.

He said his friends were always wild, but he was the craziest of the group.

“Some of my friends’ parents considered me to be a bad influence on their kids. But for myself, I had a fair share of bad influences on me … leading me to getting into a lot of bad habits,” Vanasdale said.

He said when he was between the ages of 13 and 15 years old he was doing things that college-age people do, sometimes even more.

Vanasdale said he began to drift away from his friends and family and became depressed about the person he had become, so he decided to make changes.

Photo by Tanner Mondok/The Jambar

“I almost didn’t even know who I was anymore; I almost lost sign of my identity, so that’s when I decided I really needed to focus on myself,” he said.

Although Vanasdale said it was bad for him at the time, he is glad that he got the “wildness” out of his system before attending college.

“It allowed me to mature, and it allowed me when I did come to YSU to really be able to do well for myself,” Vanasdale said.

He said after he graduated high school, he started to believe in himself. He also began to believe he could do anything if he set his mind to it, such as attaining a high GPA in college and being considered one of the best students.

Vanasdale, who is also on the YSU hockey team, interned at a 3D printing company, which led him to an internship at the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company.

He said through Goodyear, he has had the opportunity to work on high-level and multi-million-dollar capital engineering projects, machine installations and design work.

Vanasdale said one of his most important projects at Goodyear was working on solving an issue with their extruders that was plaguing the company. He said he discovered a mechanism that erased the issue.

He was able to present his invention at Goodyear’s quarterly meeting to all of Global Engineering, and the piece that he made is patent-pending.

“I went into [it] expecting to get a good experience … but as a co-op, I don’t think anybody could have expected the outcome through that company,” Vanasdale said. “I’ve gotten a huge amount of acknowledgement and life changing experiences from what I did at Goodyear.”

He is currently a biomedical research student in the college of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

Vanasdale said the largest piece of his success stems from his girlfriend, Alexis Madeline, who he has been dating for almost eight years.

“She kind of helped to straighten me up, and she’s been there every step of the way,” he said.

Madeline, a YSU alumnus, said it has been a great experience to watch Vanasdale grow as a person

“We’ve been together since we were 15 and we’ve known each other since we were 10, so I have really gotten to watch him grow up. Even during his rebellious teenage years, he was always good to me,” she said.

Madeline said Vanasdale has become more driven and goal oriented.

“He has such huge plans for the future and every year he surprises me with what he can do,” she said. “He does not want to settle for a mediocre life and all the goals he has for himself motivate me so much to be the best person I can be too.”

Madeline said she has always encouraged Vanasdale to chase his dreams and he has done the same for her.

“I think the most important thing is that I have just always been there for him. I’ve never discouraged him from doing anything that would better himself and prepare him for his future,” she said.

Vanasdale provided advice for those who may have been bad kid in high school but want to be successful in college.

“You can be a whole new person, never think that you’re stupid. I was never considered smart, but when I came here it was really all about grit and hard work to succeed,” he said.