News at Princeton

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Featured Story

'A Princeton Story: Rafting Down the Mississippi River'

Princeton University junior Jackson Dobies experienced a summer of a lifetime last June after he was awarded a Martin A. Dale '53 Summer Award. Dobies rafted much of the length of the Mississippi River from north to south along with his older brother Justin, modeling the classic stories of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. Read more.

Video Closed Captions


brother and I--

my older brother, who I'm very
close with-- we always were

very adventurous and we really
liked the idea of Mark Twain's

stories about Tom Sawyer
and Huck Finn.

My brother has always said that
he was going to raft the


I was maybe the more practical
of the two of us and was

always like, that's--

you're never going to do that.

I got an email about the Dale
Scholarship for Sophomores.

Basically, it sounded like they
had written it to me to

do this trip.

So we spent a lot of time on the
application doing research

just about what we needed to
have-- to be Coast Guard

approved, if we needed different
fishing licenses in

different states if we were
going to fish, anything we

could find out about people that
had done it and what they


I ended up getting the Dale
Award, which was really cool.

My brother and I bought
a used pontoon.

It became this community thing,
where pretty much all

of our old family friends, all
my high school friends, they

all came over to our house every
couple days, and we'd

just work on getting the
boat ready to go.

We finally set off on June 22.

Six days into our trip, our
motor caught on fire.

And so I contacted Princeton,
and they were able to help us.

It cost a little bit more than
Princeton was able to give us,

but we couldn't have done it
without the money that

Princeton gave us.

My aunt and my parents started
a little crowd funding.

We were able to raise some
money from family friends

through that.

Even with our new motor, we
could only go about seven

miles an hour, and we wanted to
go somewhere between 70 and

100 miles a day.

That led to us being on
the water for about 10

to 14 hours a day.

I read through a lot of great
American classics, which was

part of the proposal-- was to be
reading this great American

literature while having this
uniquely American experience.

When we finally got to
New Orleans, we were

thrilled to be there.

Knowing that we had made it was
really just like unlike

anything I'd ever experienced.

We got to meet people along
the river that were just

fascinating people and
were so generous.

We would be stopped in a marina,
and someone would say,

do you guys need groceries?

Do you want to take my car?

And not even driving with us,
they would just give us the

keys to their car.

To get that from people who we'd
never met before was just


I'm so thankful to go to
a place like Princeton.

It really was a life altering
experience that it was.

Just something that gives me
incredible perspective and

something that really--

that I get to have had this
experience If few else in the

world and in history will
probably ever have had or will

get to have-- going from North
to South on the river.

Since I've come back, I've
told pretty much every

sophomore I know here,
you have to apply

for the Dale Award.

To be able to have a summer to
do what you want to do with

Princeton funding it and really
supporting you in that

is probably one of the coolest
things you'll be able to do

with your time here.

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