What made you choose Arcadia?
The climate. I visited another college, looked at the people there, and thought, “It’s gonna be high school all over again. It’s just gonna be cliques of popular people and people who feel like they’re above being your friend.” Arcadia was so much more welcoming. It was that—and the fact that we have far better art programs—that made me decide to come here.
How would you describe the difference in the treatment you received in high school versus at Arcadia?
I think that the main thing is now we’re the majority, people who are different. We’re saying, “We went through enough of that nonsense; we won’t stand for it anymore.” The most that happens here is personality clashes, but there isn’t a set campaign to ruin someone or spread rumors. There isn’t the same kind of pack mentality. When someone tries to bring another person down, their friends actually stand up for them and they say, “Come on. That’s not happening.”
You’re such a dynamic character on campus. I want to capture more of that!
That still surprises me because, apparently, my reputation precedes me. People say, “40s kid! Everyone’s heard about you!” and I say, “Really?” Everybody here is so eccentric that I don’t feel it’s right for me to stand out more than other people. Like what have I done to earn that—there are other people that are far more interesting than I am. I mean, I appreciate it! When you go from being someone who sat by himself all four years of high school and who felt so unwelcome that he didn’t even go to his graduation because he didn’t see the point, to being someplace where everybody knows who you are, it means the world. But it’s so surprising that I haven’t even fully grasped it yet.
Have you changed since high school?
I am who I am because of the environment that everybody here created. The students, the staff, have created a welcoming environment where somebody like me can feel accepted. The thing is, I didn’t have a part in that. I don’t have myself to thank. I have everybody who has made my life into what it is now to thank. It’s the community here that has made me a better person and I could never be thankful enough. I could never give back enough. I couldn’t have turned my life around all by myself. Every single person who said, “Hey man! Let’s be friends! Let’s hang out”—that’s who I have to thank. I owe it to everybody who’s made my experience here so amazing. Everybody.