Torrey Pines High School alumnus Jake Heilbrunn recently wrote Off the Beaten Trail: A Young Man’s Soul-Searching Journey Through Central America, a memoir that tells of his unconventional journey to discovering his purpose. Like millions of other high school graduates, Jake entered college at 18, where he began to develop anxiety, depression, and a chronic skin condition. So he took a leap of faith and dropped out of school, bought a one-way ticket to Guatemala, and spent four months backpacking through Central America without a cell phone or any knowledge of Spanish.

From camping in the jungle to working with poverty-stricken children, Jake experienced life in a way that many people never do. His journey took him far away from American society’s dependence on social media and technology, leading him to realize that it is in the pursuit of our dreams and passions where we find personal fulfillment and inner peace. Off the Beaten Trail is available on Amazon. Learn more at