If you haven’t heard of Arya Alizadeh ‘13, you’d definitely recognize him. His towering height, impressive beard, and assortment of awesome headgear have earned Alizadeh such nicknames as “Uncle Freshman,” “Cowboy Curtis,” and “that kid with the hat” and more than a few confused encounters with parents and P-safe. Behind the beard, however, lies one of the University’s most dynamic characters. He is at once a WSA power player, multi-sport varsity athlete, and an all-around nice guy. The Argus spoke with the man of many hats about his plans for the year, the perils of looking older, and why free time is overrated.
The Argus: I see you’re keeping the beard for this year. It seems to be an important part of your on campus persona, so what’s behind the decision?
Arya Alizadeh: Well, the beard is a seasonal thing. It started when I used to do track and field, and during the season I would keep a goatee. It usually lingers on until fall, at which point I’ll put on a full beard. Then, in the winter, generally after break, I’ll go clean-shaven for a couple months. It helps here that the cross-country team participates in their seasonal beard races, so even though I don’t run with them, it’s nice to have some fellow bearded men around. The beard is a part of me.
A: So when you’re in this bearded pack do you ever get confused for professors or lost parents?
AA: Actually, all the time. First off, P-Safe stops me all the time; they want to know what an older guy like me is doing wandering around campus. I’m really 19, not 35. On move-in day one of the parents asked me where my kid was living– it was a little strange to explain that I was a student here, but looking older definitely does have its pros and cons.
A: You’re really involved in the WSA. What are you working on in the coming semester?
AA: As the Chairman of Academic Affairs, we’re looking at revising the whole system for first year initiative courses. A lot of students have complained about the lack of congruency between the FYIs; some were too hard, some too easy. Another really big thing we’re doing we haven’t officially announced yet, but I’ll give a little bit of a teaser. We have a sort of faculty review, Rate-My-Professor website going up. I can’t give details, but we’ve rebranded it as a very Wesleyan-specific site. Those are the two big things the Academic Affairs board is dealing with.
A: Sounds awesome. You’re also really busy outside of the WSA—what else do you do on campus?
AA: On top of WSA, which is already an extensive commitment, this Fall I’m doing varsity crew and ladst year I did track and field as well, so I’m planning on being a year-round athlete. I also do a lot of photography for the Argus, so all these things should keep me pretty busy. I host for the admissions office pretty often as well, or at least I did last year.
A: So you’ve got all these extracurriculars, but what do you do in your free time? When you’re not running around for the WSA, the Argus, or athletics, what are you doing?
AA: I wear hats? [Laughter] What do I do in my free time? That’s really a tough one. There’s hardly any really– I like keeping a full schedule. It’s a great way to get out, meet people, and get involved. I’d say that I don’t like free or down time, I like keeping busy.
A: And of course what about the hats– they’re a pretty big thing. You seem to have an extensive collection, how’d that get started?
AA: I guess I do have a pretty extensive collection; they’re all over my room. It started off with this Australian kangaroo leather hat. I wore it all throughout orientation last year, so people began to recognize me by it. They wouldn’t even know my name, just as the “guy that wears the hat.” It ended up being a really cool way to meet people. Even before that I had a lot of hats, but I never considered myself a hat guy. The original cowboy hat is a staple, but I also have a penguin hat I wear during the winter and a chicken one I wear to WSA meetings sometimes. You’ll see me wearing plenty of hats around campus.
A: You’re also technically an international student from Bermuda. How does that figure into the equation?
AA: Well, my mom has lived there almost all of her life, so I’ve been there every time I wasn’t in school since I was three. It really became my home. I went to school in Boston my whole life, but the only reason I was there was for academics. I never got that same feeling of home as I did in Bermuda.
A: What are your plans for the rest of the year? Do you know what you’re majoring in yet?
AA: I’m planning to do some sort of Government-Econ double major. I’m not actually taking any economics courses this semester, so it will be interesting to see how that plays out. I’m also pretty certain I want to pursue the engineering combined program, but instead of doing a 3:2, I’m probably going to do a 4:2 program. I don’t want to get out of here any time soon.