Knowing graduate school was not the answer immediately after college, Jesse Saperstein chose to hike the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine to raise money for the Joey DiPaolo AIDS Foundation. As Hobart senior, Saperstein served as residential advisor to the AIDS Awareness House and invited DiPaolo to speak on campus. After meeting at this event, Saperstein’s offered to hike for the foundation and raised $19,000 in the fall of 2005.
During the hike, Saperstein maintained a detailed online journal documenting what it was like to climb the Appalachian Mountains with Asperger’s Syndrome (AS), the mildest, most misunderstood form of autism. “People enjoyed reading the journal so much that many believed it would make a good book someday. I seriously started thinking about writing a book after my hike ended, and began the writing process in February 2006.”
Tentatively titled, “Just Take Another Look…” the book is scheduled for national release in April 2010 and will be published by an imprint of Penguin Books. Saperstein hopes his book will build more tolerance and greater understanding of individuals with AS. He wants to share what he has learned with current students, especially those with disabilities:
“If it is possible, a student with academic and social learning difficulties should try to find older role models who have been there and done that,” he said “A person with Asperger’s Syndrome will be able to understand the unique challenges we face. It is critical for students with academic and social difficulties to direct their time and energy toward endeavors they have control over. And it helps dramatically to take on leadership positions and other responsibilities outside of the classroom.”
Saperstein graduated from Hobart College cum laude, with a Bachelor’s degree in English, studied abroad in Bath, England and was part of the Orange Key Society. Saperstein received several honors including being named a Hobart Dean’s Scholar, Hobart Scholar, Hale Scholar, Durfee Scholar during senior year, receiving the Senior Outstanding Achievement in the Humanities Award and the President’s Public Service Award. In the future, Saperstein intends to attend graduate school to pursue a degree in public relations or non-for-profit work.