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Van Oosbree, Travis

Travis Van Oosbree
Acalanes Class of 2006
Portland State University for 6 months, DVC, Series of Jobs, 
Certificate Course in Cabinet Making, Cabinet Maker

Travis admits he wasn't the best student in high school. He liked to play by his own rules and felt he didn't fit in to the traditional school model. Nevertheless, by the end of his senior year, he had decided to attend Portland State University. In August, just before college started, Travis witnessed the car crash that killed his best friend. This traumatic event and his grief followed him to Portland where he struggled, dropping out after 6 months. Back home, he took part-time jobs, working in restaurants and at a gym, but would quit when a job “became too much of a hassle.” With no plan, he took classes at DVC, but again found school didn't work for him. 

He earned of a two-semester certificate course in furniture and cabinetry making at Laney College in Oakland that sounded interesting to him and started there in 2008. He completed the program and now works fulltime in a cabinet shop in Berkeley, making high-end cabinets. He says he makes good money and has made a great life for himself. He describes himself as “a blue collar guy who makes enough to get by.” He recalls that "everyone in Lafayette said ‘without a college degree you’ll never be successful’, but I'm happy and can support myself."

Travis admits that his parents were uneasy with his not finishing college. He had to prove to them that he could find his own path, but says they loved him and supported him along the way. He acknowledges that he had a lot of jobs that he didn't enjoy and had to learn what didn't want to do before figuring out what he did want to do. Even in the field of cabinetmaking, he worked at a terrible company, before finding his current employer. That experience only motivated him to keep looking for something better. 

He suggests finding something you enjoy doing 8 hours a day and pursuing it "gung ho." He didn't know what his passion was in high school - he had taken woodshop in middle school but never expected that it would be an option for him to pursue. He thought his two options were to end up as a radical, starving artist or getting a boring, 9 - 5 desk job and neither of these fit him. He didn't realize how much there was in-between. 
He would like Acalanes students to know that "You have no idea what the next ten years will hold. Often your plan doesn't work out; that's just the way the world works. Be open to the idea not everything is going to be exactly as you expect. It may even turn out better."