Meet VALLEY’s Fall 2023 Self-Improvement Section Opener: Jaiden Hope

Photo by Taay Jaack and Shana Andrews

Everybody has a word that they live by, whether it’s consciously or not. For Jaiden Hope, a second-year broadcast journalism and communications sciences student from Philadelphia, none is more apt than “perseverance.”

Hope has always been actively contributing to and getting involved at Penn State. From running a podcast for CommRadio to working with Culture Central, he strives to work for what he finds passion in.

Change is never easy, often pushing you outside your comfort zone in terms of what you have to learn to do. He recalls having experienced the most change in life when his mother fell ill during his high school years. As a result of this, he found his life being transformed drastically. He went from being a brother to his two sisters to becoming a parental figure in their lives. Feeling like he was thrown into a fire, he had to mature quite early in life. With this experience — balancing school with taking care of his family — he describes his mindset as having changed completely since then.

If I can do that at that age, then what can’t I do?

Jaiden Hope

Hope also realized that he needed to frame himself as more of a role model, not only to his siblings but also to everyone else. He now tries to inspire the next person to do something great in their life. “You still have to do it for yourself but at the end of the day, it’s all bigger than you,” he says. The process changed the dynamic between him and his siblings for the better, bringing them closer and making them realize that they only had each other.

Mastering the art of balance is one that doesn’t come easy, but Hope has managed to do so. However, this didn’t come about without strife or hardship. Flashing back to his senior year of high school, Hope found himself burdened with an excruciatingly heavy workload from school, having to put a considerable amount of time and energy into doing well in what was expected of him. He found himself having to balance this with being the stand-in parent at home. He says that it constantly felt like for every win, there was another loss to behold.

“It felt like I was coming home from having worked a 9 to 5, and then I had to wake up and do it again the next day.”

What came from it was also a greater appreciation for his mother, commending her for being able to manage something like this every day, because it’s hard. He was appreciated in turn by his school, teachers and community for being able to strike that balance in the form of an award. Not a lot of people would have been able to carry themselves through a situation like that, all while earning the highest grade point average amongst the male students in his year.

However, Hope was able to persevere.

That word has been key to Hope’s story. He describes his process of endurance and tenacity to be one where he first takes the situation in, letting himself feel how he’s feeling in the moment but then keeping in mind that “the show must go on” and that life does go on.

“I could feel sad today or upset today, or mad, whatever, but I’ve gotta keep going,” Hope says.

When striving to endure and persevere, one could find themselves needing reminders of such a mentality. For Hope, that comes in the form of the ink on his arm. The first is a quote pulled from his favorite movie, “The Lion King.”

“You can either run from it or learn from it,” it says. He has another tattoo near the other that reminds him to “keep going.” He believes that we all have to give ourselves that constant reminder. At some point, it should become a subconscious thought.

It’s okay to go through dark times but it’s about what we do in response to it and what we do during it.

Jaiden Hope

His strength to persevere was also put to the test this summer when he found himself going through a depressive state and being unable to understand why it was happening. “I struggled to find myself in that moment. It’s a crappy feeling to just feel down and not know why. Life is great right now, so why do I feel like this?” he says.

However, regret is not a word he associates with this experience. He’d be lying if he said that he’d go back and do it all over again if he could, but he was able to see the bigger picture. The experience allowed him to shift his focus to making his goals happen.

Sometimes the GPS isn’t always right. It’s okay to switch the route, go a different way. You’re still gonna get there, it’s not a matter of how or when.

Jaiden Hope

Setting goals is still a complicated process for Hope. We all want to do so many things, but the reality is, we can’t do everything. So, he treats his goals like building blocks. He tries to use one opportunity to build off another. One of his biggest goals thus far has been straightforward — to be here, to be going to school somewhere and to have the opportunity to graduate. It’s not easy but it’s not impossible either. On that same note, graduating from here is his current ultimate goal.

One of his other goals also includes being on TV someday. Being a television personality is something he envisions for himself. His passion for sports has allowed him to take on a sports podcast for CommRadio. At least, that’s where it started. It eventually moved into just talking to people, something that comes naturally to Hope. He chose this course of action because he discovered that audiences enjoy hearing about a variety of things as opposed to the same topic every time.

Hope believes that caring for something and nurturing it is the path to growth. To him, his hair is symbolic of the same, alluding its length to his journey and cutting it to commemorate new beginnings in life. The last time he cut it, it was to learn patience and to learn to not rush to get where you want to be.

Life is about growth. Hair, plants, you, anything.

Jaiden Hope

His perseverance, passion and ability to endure difficult situations is something he’s proudest of. He found himself feeling the happiest when bearing the fruit of his hard work — walking across the stage when graduating from high school. It was a moment he felt most fulfilled and beloved. People who loved him and people who had never known him alike cheered for him and the rest of his class as they walked on stage. He describes this moment as something surreal; something he’d been looking forward to his whole life, something that felt conceptually so far away finally culminating in front of him.

Most importantly, he found himself thinking …

We’re going to see each other like this again in a few years, except we’re all going to be walking across a different stage.

Jaiden Hope

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.