West Windsor, N.J. – Trenton native Jesse Herrera (’05, Liberal Arts) biked across the country this spring with several goals in mind. He wanted to get a unique interactive experience of America’s amazing sites and people. But he also wanted to give back to his historic hometown by raising money for MCCC, where he spent his first year of college before transferring to Arizona State University.
Herrera believes that MCCC, especially its Trenton campus, has a role to play in revitalizing the city through education. He initiated a fundraising campaign, “Herrera Across America/Miles for Mercer,” to help MCCC develop and expand its programs in the city.
Herrera started his career in sales, which proved a natural field for the dynamic 20-something. But he had passions that were way stronger – a deep love for cycling and an enduring affinity for his home city of Trenton.
“I see what Mercer is doing for education in the Trenton community. That’s the kind of spark we need in this city,” he said.
Throughout his two-month journey, Herrera, who left Hamilton on April 19, kept in touch with his MCCC friends and a large network of family members and personal friends via Instagram and Twitter, posting regular updates about his travels. Jesse ended his 3,400-mile ride on schedule, reaching Portland, OR, on June 19 and taking a break with friends before his final ride to Astoria, OR, to dip his tire into the Pacific Ocean on June 28.
Herrera totaled 55 days on his bike, cycling more than 100 miles in a day on several occasions. He recalls a stretch between Casper and Shoshoni, WY, where there was nothing but a single rest stop for 100 miles. He did not spend a single night in a motel.
Between weather conditions, the people he met, and the places he passed through, Herrera says that every day was a new adventure. He met a young man skateboarding across the country and a woman doing the journey on foot. He met cowboys who lived up to the legend, had a close call with a bobcat, saw antelope and lots of other wildlife, traveled through ghost towns, and spent a few nights in cities with populations of fewer than 100.
“The further west I went, the more amazing the scenery got and the fewer people there were. In the small towns, guys like me are the entertainment. People were so open and willing to help me out. They gave me meals and places to stay. They were very interested in what I was doing. On any given day, they would change my day for the better,” Herrera said.
Jesse handed out his card emblazoned with the MCCC logo everywhere he went, arriving in Portland with just a handful of the 500 cards he took with him. He has 569 followers on Instagram hailing from many states.
“I’m excited that I made it,” Herrera says. “There were times when it was really intense, especially in Idaho, where I had no cell reception for three days. I had a lot of time to think about things, but then I had to get back to where I was and live in the moment. I learned to take things a day at a time. I saw the seasons change.”
Now that he has arrived in Portland, where he will live with a friend, his next agenda item is nailing down a job in the bike industry. And, he is already thinking about future bike trips.
Herrera advises students to follow their dreams. “I have worked in the corporate world, but I decided I want do what makes me happy,” he says, noting that his dream job is to work for Specialized, the manufacturer of the premier bike he rode to the West Coast.
In Jesse’s two months on the road, the Herrera Across America campaign raised almost $1,600. For more on Jesse's trip, including who to make a donation, click here. Community members interested in donating to the campaign should click here.
|The gorgeous Oregon coastline in Ecola State Park.
Herrerra Across America Webpage
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