FIND YOUR VOICE
MAPS Media Institute founder Peter Rosten looks at his current program - the media arts school occupying several classrooms in Hamilton's Westview Center - as the "house that Jake built."
Jake Rowley, who passed away this fall, will be the focus of a memorial celebration at the MAPS classrooms in the Westview Center in Hamilton Saturday. Photo provided by MAPS
Truth be told, Rosten wishes he didn't have to commemorate Jake Rowley, a Corvallis High School grad who spent a good deal of time under Rosten's guidance learning the ropes of mass media communications and filmmaking.
But, on Saturday at Westview (from 4-7 p.m.), Rosten and the MAPS family will celebrate Rowley and inaugurate MAPS' Jake Rowley Memorial Scholarship.
At 20, Rowley died this fall in a drowning accident in Arizona, where he had moved in hopes of getting a bachelor's degree in film.
"He left us way too young," Rosten said.
Rosten said there was such a great bond between he and Rowley that he figured it was only a matter of time before Rowley came and joined the MAPS team.
"We discussed many times that he would come work at MMI (MAPS Media Institute), which unfortunately didn't matriculate," Rosten said.
Rosten, who is known for his easy-going style and for his camaraderie with those who come through the MAPS program, said there was just something special about Rowley.
"I find it very hard to disengage from students - these are my friends and coworkers," Rosten said. "And distinguished students like Jake become like my kid. I saw a lot of myself in Jake."
Rowley's mother, Natalie Park, said the impact of MAPS on her son was so profound that he eventually wanted to pursue a career in the film world.
"He had a huge creative side but at school he wasn't a kid that was into sports or debate, so I felt lucky that there was something like MAPS that could help him find his place," Park said. "He just loved it. The creative side of him just came out and shone really brightly. Had he not had that program I don't know if he would have been able to determine that (he wanted to pursue film) at such as young age. He might have just been a brick layer."
Jordi Snow, Rowley's sister, agreed, saying that she had not been lucky enough to find a program like MAPS while she was in school.
"I think MAPS was just really special to him and I think Peter Rosten had a lot to do with that," Snow said. "He was a big mentor for Jake and he was a friend. He helped Jake find something he was passionate about, which is hard for young kids sometimes."
Snow said her brother was so passionate about what he'd learned at MAPS that he filmed her wedding.
"It's very special to me that he did that," Snow said. "Especially because I know it's something he did because he wanted to - it was special to him as well."
Park said she and the rest of Rowley's family were moved by the idea of having scholarship in her son's name for MAPS students.
"It's really important to me and to Jake's family because it honors him and it keeps his memory alive," Park said. "We hope that it will help other kids who are like Jake and who are still looking for that thing that they connect with…. Because it made him happy, it made him extremely happy."
Reporter Sepp Jannotta can be reached at 363-3300 or email@example.com.