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Living in a Van to Pay Off Student Debt

After graduating from Duke, Ilgunas embarked on another adventure and walked the length of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which is 1,700 miles from Alberta, Canada to Texas.

Ilgunas found inspiration and courage from several authors, especially travel narratives such as Peter Jenkins's A Walk Across America, which shares the story about a young man going on an adventure.

"I've really benefited from authors who've shared their stories," he said. "I think we need memoirists - people who are willing to share their lives in an uncensored way. When we see someone else's soul, we see a bit of our own."

Ilgunas, who is now living in Stokes County, North Carolina as an adventurer and writer, is writing a book about his hike, tentatively titled Trespassing across America.

"I'm not at all opposed to making money," he said. "Without money I wouldn't have independence. But, I am in no hurry to buy a new car or home. I like being able to move around a lot, and I can't do that when my home is fastened to the ground."

His experience at Duke has sparked interest from college students everywhere, many of whom experienced the same situation as Ilgunas.

Living debt free should be a personal challenge for everyone, Ilgunas said.

"Forget the formula," he said. "Be creative. Don't think of your crazy dreams as 'crazy,' but as messages from fate calling upon you to do something grand."

--Written by Ellen Chang for MainStreet

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