YouTube star makes University chef’s dream a reality


Courtesy of JasonsList

Eric Pursley sits in the airplane that Jason Yue, senior in Engineering, surprised him with. Yue created a YouTube channel called “JasonsList,” where he helps people fulfill their bucket lists.

By Elyssa Kaufman

In his most recent YouTube video, which has gained nationwide attention, Jason makes a Presby dining hall chef’s dream of flying a reality. His video has appeared on the Today Show and has been shared on social media, along with various news sites.

Eric Pursley, Presby dining hall chef, had no idea what was in store for him when Jason’s car pulled up in front of his house one morning.

“I was sitting at home relaxing, fixing my daughter breakfast. There was a knock at the door, and I was shocked because it was Jason. He said we were going bowling. I got in the car and did not know I was being recorded,” Pursley explained.

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    Little did Pursley know, a day of what he thought was “bowling” turned into a life-changing experience. Pursley had never been flying, and Jason was going to to make this happen. Pursley explained flying in a plane is on his bucket list because he hopes to plan a future trip to California with his fiancé.

    “I didn’t believe him when he said we were going flying. It was hard to believe, and I was very nervous,” Pursley said.

    The surprise was a success and recorded by Jason for his YouTube channel.

    Pursley summed up his experience as he said, “It meant a lot to me being able to fly for the first time, and Jason helped me get rid of my fears.”

    Eric explained that as a freshman, Jason was one of the kids who came to the kitchen frequently and liked to talk to the cooks. From then on, Pursley and Jason developed a friendship.

    While reflecting on this video, Jason stated, “I think it’s validation for the human spirit, in the sense that there has been a ton of positive reaction toward the video.”

    Humans of Champaign-Urbana

    JasonsList project is a result of Jason’s previous project, Humans of Champaign-Urbana, which he began in August of last year.

    Jason explained that one summer he spent a lot of time on busses commuting from Champaign to Minneapolis. After taking the 11 hour trip multiple times, he realized something.

    “You can do one of two things on a bus. You can talk to the people next to you, or you can put your headphones in and do your own thing.” Jason said.

    On the first trip that summer, Jason decided to talk to the person next to him into the night as everyone went to sleep.

    He said, “We had such a rich conversation” that it made him curious about people, and it made him want to learn more about what it means to be alive and to be human.

    Through these bus rides, Jason realized he did not know much about the Champaign-Urbana community. He wanted to learn more about the people. He said his first project is essentially a journal of people he has met.

    “Humans of Champaign-Urbana is the direct result of me wanting to know more about people,” Jason said.


    From his experience with Humans of Champaign-Urbana, Jason began a new project.

    Jason created a bucket list of 100 things he wanted to complete. One of his bucket list items is to “Dougie with Ellen and/or Derrick Rose.” While completing his list, Jason also wants to help others complete their lists.

    “You can accomplish this as long as you work hard, and you are very genuine in your emotions and your intent,” Jason said.

    Aside from taking Eric flying, other JasonsList videos include helping with a surprise marriage proposal, a treasure hunt and planning the perfect homecoming.

    Having the perfect homecoming was another bucket list item accomplished on Jason’s list. As a senior, Jason explained that homecoming was very important to him.

    His perfect homecoming began with a run around campus followed by tailgating and chauffeuring alumni from the I-Hotel to the game. He then went to the game, and Jason “may or may not have snuck on the field.” In continuation of the day, the YouTube star was pied in the face. To complete the day, Jason had dinner at the University president’s house along with the chancellor.

    The Process

    All of Jason’s videos are self-produced and uploaded to his YouTube channel. Viewers can subscribe to JasonsList where he currently has over 1,500 subscribers. Even with his large following, Jason said he is more focused on his storytelling and content rather than numbers.

    Nathan Marasigan, sophomore in engineering and Jason’s roommate, remembers first seeing the public response to Jason’s self-produced video on Reddit. He said he was very excited to see the viewers responding to the videos and put it lightly when he described the experience as, “pretty cool.”

    Another friend and recent University graduate, Alex Fung, is someone Jason said he looks to for advice when it comes to good storytelling. Jason describes Fung as an “influence on his life.”

    Throughout the process, Jason learned to not focus on one specific bucket list item, but to take them as they come.

    Jason said he is incredibly thankful for the positive feedback on his projects because “these days, it is nice to see some good come out of people.”

    “Follow me on this journey. I have no idea where it will go,” Jason said.

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