Peter Olsen, one of our regular Homeschooling Teen contributors, graduated on May 13 from Paradise Valley Community College with Highest Distinction as a member of the Honors Program and Phi Theta Kappa. Peter received both an Associate in Arts degree and a certificate in Web Design. He is also enrolled at Mesa Community College where he has one more semester to go before completing his Associate in Applied Science degree in Computer Game Design. Peter entered PVCC as a full-time student and Presidents’ Scholar in January 2009. The Presidents’ Scholarship is full tuition waiver for up to four consecutive fall and spring semesters, awarded to high-achieving high school seniors.
Throughout high school, Peter was active in service learning and volunteer projects. He earned the President’s Volunteer Service Gold Award in 2005 and the President’s Volunteer Service Bronze Award in 2006 and 2007. Peter was a member of the National Society of High School Scholars and Eta Sigma Alpha National Homeschool Honor Society, Epsilon Delta Chapter. While in high school, he also worked as a packaging assistant at PC NetwoRx, a nutritional supplement business owned by a local homeschool family. Since graduating from high school in May 2008, Peter has served as an Audio-Visual Technician at Desert View Bible Church. Peter grew up in a unique homeschool environment, as described in the following autobiographical sketch.
About Me, by Peter Olsen
Before attending college, I was homeschooled my whole life. We used an eclectic assortment of materials from traditional textbooks and educational software to science kits and DVDs. Our family’s library of over 5,000 books was a treasure trove of knowledge at my fingertips. Much of my learning took place during activities in which I worked independently and which allowed for flexibility. For example, in kindergarten I’d spend hours playing my favorite computer game, Logical Journey of the Zoombinis. But with educational freedom came the responsibility for getting my own work done. By the end of my junior year in high school I was determined to finish calculus so I completed eighteen chapters in one week, receiving A’s and B’s. The home learning environment was ideally suited to self-discipline as well as constructive creativity.
My growing up years were enriched with many family adventures. Packed with education as well as fun, each experience opened my eyes to different cultures and environments. Memorable images continue to fuel my imagination – building sand castles on the beach, hiking up volcanic cinder cones, walking among ancient Indian ruins, discovering ghost towns, participating in historical re-enactments, and driving on dusty dirt roads through the desert. I climbed the highest mountain in Arizona as well as a 14,000 foot peak in the Colorado Rockies. These wide-ranging learning situations helped to broaden my horizons both literally and figuratively. This taught me that a real education is more than book learning – it also includes exploration.
Although science was my best school subject, throughout childhood I wanted to be an architect. I developed strong conceptual and visual design skills through hobbies that consisted of drawing maps and floor plans, playing SimCity, putting together 3-D puzzles of famous buildings, and building LEGO structures. These pastimes allowed me to experiment with a variety of simulated landscapes and layouts. Then in my early teens I began creating new levels and cinematics for a computer game called Chex Quest. That’s when I decided to become a game designer instead of a building designer. At the same time, I applied my analytical and problem solving skills when I built my own computer and three more computers for other family members.
While my aptitude for math and physics shows that I possess a high level of critical thinking skills, being creative is my real passion. A combination of logical and creative abilities is ideal for programming interactive multimedia, as in my college majors of Web Design and Game Technology. By taking general studies courses I was able to delve more deeply into geography, another interest of mine. Although most of my classes were held on campus, recently I’ve had the opportunity to take some online courses. One was a communications class in which we created PowerPoint and video presentations, then uploaded them to YouTube. In a presentation titled “Computer Games: Enhancing Education,” I made a persuasive argument for the educational value of computer games.
From a little boy playing with LEGOs… to a teen making computer game mods… to a college student majoring in web and game design – the skills I’ve developed throughout my life have prepared me for a future in any field that uses innovative multimedia content. My varied interests in this area are reflected in a blog that I maintain for discussing anime, webcomics, games, machinima, Vocaloid music, and random topics from the world of computers and entertainment. Although my ultimate goal is to design computer games, I am competent in varied forms of interactive media. I believe that to attain success one must not only be skilled, but also versatile and able to meet any challenges. I’m confident that I have what it takes to succeed: creativity, technical proficiency, and determination. My aim is to create imaginative games and dynamic environments for fun and learning!
http://portfolio.xboltz.net – Peter’s portfolio website
http://blog.xboltz.net – Peter’s blog
http://www.xboltz.net – Peter’s personal website