Category: Ben Aghajanian

“People of Redding” by Ben Aghajanian

Welcome to The People of Redding, a new blog series sponsored by 186 South College Honors Blog. I am your host, Benjamin Aghajanian, and I’m about to interview an enthusiastic member of the Freshman Honors class, Rich Hayburn.

If you’re joining us for the first time, the premise of People of Redding is similar to that of the Humans of New York social media campaign – to get to know a community through telling the stories and sharing the opinions of individuals in it. Each week, I will ask a new participant basic questions to gain background, then we will delve deeper into more interesting, perhaps silly topics. Hope you enjoy.

*This conversation is taken directly from a voice recording of the interview. Some parts are omitted, but every line was actually said.*

Me: I’m just going to ask a few preliminary questions just to get to know you.

Rich: Sounds good.

Me: So what’s your full name?

Rich: Richard Steven Andrew Hayburn.

Me: Wow, two middle names!

Rich: Yeah, Confirmation name.

Me: Interesting, what would you like me to call you?

Rich: Daddy.

Me: Alright Daddy, *Laughs* which section do you live in?

Rich: 2B.

Me: What’s your major?

Rich: Mechanical Engineering with minors in Entrepreneurship and Mathematics.

Me: Now we’re going to get to the more complex questions. If one day you woke up and didn’t care in the slightest what other people thought, what would you do?

Rich: I don’t. I would live my life the way I do now man.

Me: Inspirational.

Rich: You know it.

Me: Which word do you like better out of these three words which I’m about to say to you: slippery, exposé, or promiscuous?

Rich: Promiscuous is pretty chill actually.

Me: You like that one?

Rich: Yeah, if someone said, “Rich, you’re promiscuous,” I would say, “Yeah I am.”

Me: You know that promiscuous has a sort of sexual connotation to it?

Rich: Oh… I did not.

Me: So you would be fine with people calling you promiscuous?

Rich: Maybe not.

Me: Which naturally occurring drug would you say goodbye to if you had to, adrenalin or oxytocin? Adrenalin includes your fight or flight reflex, enjoying a rollercoaster, going through intense workouts. Oxytocin is your love drug; it gets released when you engage in sexual activity.

Rich: Without adrenalin I would lose the grind man. That’s a tough one for me, but I would rather have my adrenalin.

Me: You are stuck in a corn maze with deadly clowns coming to kill you.

Rich: Oh that would be horrible.

Me: You may select any person, real or fictional to join you, who do you choose?

Rich: Would I say Joe Biden? *Laughs* Buzz Aldrin was always a role model of mine since I was young. I would actually like to have Buzz next to me.

Me: Wait, who’s this guy?

Rich: Buzz Aldrin is the second guy on the moon! You didn’t know that? The man gets no credit.

Me: So you would like to have Buzz Aldrin, the second man on the moon, with you while deadly clowns come after you.

Rich: Yes.

Me: Okay. *Laughs* What’s the most exciting thing in your life right now? It can be a current project, a class you’re taking, a new relationship you’ve made, really anything.

Rich: I’m trying to start my own email/social media marketing agency. Actually today, I walked down Main Street and catalogued all the restaurants there, and this weekend I’m going to google every single one on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. There are literally 70 stores I wrote down. I’ll do the first one for free… start to prove results… then once I get a couple restaurants under my belt, I’ll start charging. I’ll build a character for the company through this. People will join it, follow it; I’ll advertise it everywhere. Then get an email account  and update a newsletter for them every week, month, whatever, and say things like, “Hey we’re having deals”. And like, I’m a mechanical engineer, but I’m also a 19 year old in college – I know how to make a social media account.

Me: Well that’s all I have for you man, thanks for sharing.

Rich: Thanks, it was fun.

“The Mini Gap Year” by Ben Aghajanian

Now that the second semester has started, people have begun the search for summer jobs. I’ve already submitted a couple applications myself–one to a resort in Cape Cod and another to an ice cream shop in my hometown. With either job, I’ll make a suitable amount of money to last me for another year whilst I enjoy the sweet repose that summer has to offer. No academics, minimal commitments, sunshine, beach sports, books, hammocks, shorts and sandals, and the vivacity of a slight sunburn.

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“Self-Doubt” By Ben Aghajanian

I have a poster of a penguin in my room here at University of Delaware. Admittedly, I got this poster because I love penguins. However, the more I study it, the more I wonder about its significance. The poster displays snapshots, from the side, of a penguin on his journey to the edge of the iceberg: starting at a standstill, accelerating, then coming to a stop right before jumping into the Antarctic water. It puzzles me to this day why he doesn’t just jump in. Isn’t that what penguins do? I’ve watched enough of Disney’s Happy Feet to know that penguins love swimming, especially diving. So what’s the problem? Is he afraid? Does he not know how to navigate the waters? Or is this poster symbolic of a greater, more philosophical conversation?

Stimulated by the mystery, I asked my friends for their opinion on the matter. Interestingly, everyone had different interpretations. One of my friends said that, in fact, each “snapshot” was a different penguin, and the one at the end was chickening-out of a group plunge. Others claimed it represented each stage of life–from birth to the periphery of death.

Personally, I saw doubt in this penguin. He’s not a baby, so knows how to swim, and I’m assuming he lives near the iceberg, so he should feel comfortable with navigation. Nevertheless, he holds back. He had so much hope in the first few snapshots–pushing off, each step larger than the last. But at some point along the way, a mass of uncertainty infected his motivation.

The sad thing is that I see myself in the penguin. Occasionally, I set a goal, work diligently at it for a few weeks–maybe a month–and then lose commitment. For example, in high school, I decided I wanted to give a speech about subconscious racism to my peers and the general public. I got permission from a professor, gathered the data, and put together a slideshow, but the moment I felt resistance from the superintendent, I gave up. I gave up because I thought the idea was too big for me, too big for a seventeen-year-old kid.

If there’s one thing that the penguin poster has taught me, it’s to get rid of self-doubt. It’s important to take all the chances you get, particularly in college. If you know you can do something, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t accomplish it. Letting false uncertainty hold you back will only result in regret. As William Shakespeare once said: “Our doubts are traitors/and make us lose the good we oft might win/by fearing to attempt.”

“Trying Something New” by Ben Aghajanian

“The finish line is right there boys and I’m on their coxen! We’re taking a power ten! Catch… Set! One!”

If you had asked me a month ago what the chances were that I’d row in college, I would’ve laughed and answered no way. Before coming here, I didn’t even know rowing existed outside of the Olympics. Continue reading

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