BY JESSICA TRONDSEN
After living in the United States for the past four years, Pacific Lutheran alum and journalism major Daniel Drake, will soon be headed back to Norway.
Following his May 2012 graduation, Drake spent six months looking for work before finding temporary employment as the marketing assistant at Metro Parks Tacoma. His job ends in June. His visa expires in July.
Although Drake, who studied at PLU as an international and non-traditional student, said he looks forward to seeing family again in Norway, Drake said he has grown accustom to living in the United States. “I have my network here,” Drake said.
In 2006, Drake flunked out of the bachelors program at University of Oslo and spent the next three years working temp jobs. He said he decided to go back to school because of a career fair he attended the day after he was laid off from his job at a call center.
“I looked around different booths and there was one that said ‘Study in the U.S.’ They gave me a list of places to get a scholarship to cover one-third of tuition,” Drake said.
Drake applied to California Lutheran, Linfield and PLU. “I picked PLU because they got back to me first. It’s a weird thought that I could have ended up somewhere else,” Drake said. “A strange, strange thought.”
Drake said he came to the United States interested in reporting on U.S. government, but was inspired to change his career aspirations after hearing of a 2011 massacre in Oslo, where a gunman shot 68 people at a youth summer camp. “I was shaken by what happened in Norway and that made the petty side of politics just seem silly to me,” Drake said.
He said he now wants to work in the healthcare sector, primarily in web development.
Drake taught himself how to make websites in high school. Though interested in working with web content when he arrived at PLU, “there was no place for me to do that really,” Drake said, because there was a lack of emphasis on creating an online presence for student media at the time.
Drake changed that mindset, his former co-worker Storm Gerlock, the current general manager of PLU’s student television station, Mast TV, said. He posted videos online for the television station (then named KCNS), and worked as the news director.
Drake is “really multi-talented,” Gerlock said. “The thing about Daniel is that he doesn’t think with a lot of boundaries. He knows how much potential student media and a website have.”
In addition to his work with the television station, Drake also developed a website for PLU’s student newspaper, The Mooring Mast.
Amelia Heath, a former Mast editor and co-worker of Drake, said Drake then taught Mast staff members how to upload content to the website.
“He was a very patient teacher,” Heath said. “The first night I was learning how to load content he sat with me for 30 minutes making sure I could do it.”
Drake said his interest in developing websites is because he likes “making something that a lot of people use. It’s ok to make a website that looks pretty, but it’s nice to make something that people use.”
The website, launched in Oct. 2011, has more than 71,800 views. “The site is a result of a team effort, not just something I did,” Drake said.
The start of another team effort Drake is part of also began in 2011: a hyper-local journalism blog called Discover Parkland.
After learning that Tacoma had only two hyper-local blogs, but “Seattle had a forest of them,” Drake found a Facebook page that listed Parkland events and saw potential for it to be turned into a blog. He contacted the administrator of the page, Julie Collison, and worked to develop the page into a non-profit organization with volunteer contributors. Drake is the president and web developer of the organization, and plans to continue to serve in this role through the use of Google Hangout and Skype technology after his return to Norway.
“It feels good to give back a bit to this place that I didn’t always give the attention it deserved. It’s amazing that you can be part of an area for so long and not be part of it,” Drake said. “It’ll be sad to not be able to walk around Parkland and see the results. We’re still getting established.”