Prep Student Overcomes Adversity To Pursue College

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An 11-year-old ASU Prep Digital student with a traumatic brain injury heals and balances college aspirations with coding, automotive repair and other extracurriculars.

Jayeden Valbrun began the sixth grade a few months ago at Arizona State University Prep Digital online K-12 school.

In the few months since beginning courses at his new virtual school, Valbrun has already expressed interest in accelerating his learning by taking college courses once he enters high school, which is extremely ambitious for a student that just turned 11-years-old.

After the COVID-19 pandemic sent Valbrun and his siblings to online school back in 2020, Valbrun and his parents researched alternative options.

Valbrun mentioned that he did research on the quality of education at ASU Prep Digital and he ultimately made the decision, along with his parents, to transfer from his former school in order to pursue collegiate level courses as soon as possible, as well as his unique variety of hobbies and interests.

“When I was in Coding class, I made an app. I put like a smiley face on the app, but it was JavaScript, so it was pretty hard,” Valbrun said.

He additionally expressed that he wants to surpass his sister at school, and he might not be that far off of his goal, considering he is already on track to reach seventh grade math courses soon.

With ASU Prep Digital’s self-paced structure, Valbrun can begin taking collegiate courses during high school, which he said was a major factor in choosing the online K–12 school.

Whether Valbrun is spending time with his father working on his car, developing an app for his mother’s business, gardening or playing football, Valbrun uses his free time exploring and creating his different interests.

Virtual Student

Sarah Newsom has been working with Valbrun as his Learning Success Coach since he began at ASU Prep Digital, and she spoke with high regard for his potential and determination to learn.

“Jayeden’s mind and its ability to branch out and not only excel, but thrive, in so many different areas and skills is remarkable,” Newsom said. “Remarkable is actually an understatement. It is more phenomenal because at a very young age Jayeden suffered a traumatic brain injury, a brain injury that made for an unsure and unpredictable future.”

Valbrun is passionate about aviation and engineering and his current goal is to become an engineer pilot. He maintains a rigorous schedule filled with extracurricular activities, but he balances his academic, athletic, and personal schedules with ease.