On the Road Again: A Conversation With Two of Strake Jesuit’s Furthest Commuting Students

Andrew Eichelberger '16

Andrew Eichelberger ’16

Alexander Landowski ’19

If someone told you that you had to get in a car and ride from New York City to Los Angeles, you would probably think of any possible reason for getting out of it, regardless of the time allowed to complete it. The distance between these two great American cities is roughly 2,450 miles. Now, if I told you that you had to do that drive 33 ½ times in four years, you would think that I was crazy for even suggesting it! Samuel Sheldon ’17, by the time he graduates, will have travelled approximately that distance — 82,000 miles, just going back and forth to school for four years. Astoundingly, he will have done so willingly.

Samuel, who lives in Lake Jackson, wakes up every school morning at 5:30 AM and departs with his father at about 6:10 AM for the 57 mile journey.  In spite of that long distance, he arrives at SJ no later than 7:15 AM every day.  He claims that he has never been late one time; which makes some of us mere mortals with short commutes, and a few tardies on our record, look pretty irresponsible. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Samuel has become proficient at sleeping in the car.

Andrew Eichelberger ‘16, from the Woodlands, says he spends about 15 hours per week in his car, driving himself to and from school. He arises at 5:45 AM every school morning and is leaving home by 6 AM, arriving a little before 7 AM for his athletic workouts. Like Samuel, Andrew has never been late to school either. Andrew does admit it took most of his Freshman year to adjust to the many hours in the car. He is well used to it now, which is fortunate for him. By the time he graduates, he will have spent over 2,000 hours in the car going to and from SJ. When one considers there are 8,765 hours in a year,that shows what a commitment he has truly made.

Both of these young men make the same strong affirmation that the sacrifice of their time is well worth it to enable them to attend SJ. “It gets long, but it’s worth it with all of the experiences of Strake,” says Andrew. Both of them state that they purchase an average of two tanks of gas per week. If you consider a modest price of $2.25 per gallon for  their four years of high school, you quickly realize they each would have an additional cost of nearly $8,000 during their time spent here.

Next time you feel burdened waking up so you can take your 20 or 30 minute ride to school in the morning, try not to complain. Rather, consider what Samuel and Andrew are dealing with every single day and consider yourself very lucky. When I asked Samuel if he was aware of how much time he spent in the car going to and from school in a year’s time, he replied “I’m not really sure that I want to.” I apologize for doing that for you, Samuel.

Special thanks to Mr. Montroy, Strake Jesuit Registrar, for furnishing me 90 zip codes, representing our student body, which constituted the genesis of my research for this article.