Department ofEnglish

First He Wants to Bike to Mexico, and Then He’ll Figure out the Rest of His Life

Editor’s note:In the spring of 2007, University Communications caught up with six students that Scene magazine had profiled three years earlier as freshmen. One of the students was J.P. Kemmick. Here are his thoughts from that article and a recent update.

J.P. Kemmick, 07


"Write as much and as often as you can inbetween your day job."

First, J.P. Kemmick, 07, wanted to ride his bike to Mexico, and then planned to figure out the rest of his life, which includes a writing career.

He never made it to Mexico. Try instead Maine, his end point at the end of a cross-country bike tour in the summer of 2007. He still plans on a writing career, maybe someday publishing pieces in Vanity Fair, or that holy grail of writing, The New Yorker.  Where ever Kemmick eventually ends up, it will likely be in the Seattle or Portland area, far from his hometown of Billings, Montana.

J.P was like most students during his freshman year, digging into just about every activity he could find. For Kemmick, that hasn’t changed. He still plays on his ultimate Frisbee team, wrote for and staffed Saxifrage, PLU’s literary magazine, and was active with the club “Students for Peace.” His senior year, he was president of the student environmental club, and for his efforts spent his days elbow deep in discarded food at the U.C. as part of the food audit.

“I’m all about extra curricular activities,” Kemmick said, and then proceeded to make an important distinction between class-learning and the higher learning experience in general. “I’m all about college – not necessarily school.”

A few months later, with a new job working on urban agricultural issues at the Tacoma Pierce County Health Department, Kemmick said that he still plans on being a full-time writer someday, and is working with a friend to start up a e-zine.

“I’d like to make lots and lots of money writing screen plays, short stories, whatever,” he laughed. He’s considering going back to graduate school.

For all those future Lute writers out there, Kemmick has this advice: Write as much and as often as you can inbetween your day job.

“You’re going to suck at first. It will be awful. But when you have that passion, that’s  all you can do, write.”