Meet Jefferson Ajayi ’13. If you’re like most students on campus, you probably already have. A champion wrestler, pre-med student, and Psi Upsilon brother, Jefferson fills many roles on campus. But his full-time job is professional chiller, and if anyone chills harder than Jefferson, he’d like to meet them.

On a wintry Monday morning, I ran into Jefferson outside Pi Café and asked to interview him on the spot. Despite limping in pain from a weekend wrestling tournament and needing to prepare for an afternoon class, the Shaker Heights native smiled, bro-hugged me, and happily obliged. Such is Jefferson’s daily demeanor. We talked about wrestling, finding common ground with people, environmental advocacy, Ohio, finding common ground with people, the power of the human mind, and finding common ground with people.

The Argus: What makes you a WesCeleb?
Jefferson Ajayi: Just being able to hang out with a wide variety of students on campus. I think I can find a common ground with most people on campus, and if I can do that, it’s easy to form friendships and build relationships with people. I think most people have a lot of things in common. When you put in the time to get to know each other, you realize we’re pretty much exactly the same, and minute little differences don’t make that much of a deal.

A: You’re known as one of the most friendly and open people on campus. Do you try to be that way, or does it just come naturally to you?
JA: It’s just a natural thing. Pretty much my family is the exact same way. It’s a lot easier to make friends than make enemies, so why put effort into having rivalries with people when it’s equally effortless to meet people? As long as you can have a common ground, you can build from there. Once you grasp that ability, it’s a really good tool to have in the real world.

A: You say that what you’re most known for on campus is just being excellent at chilling. Can you elaborate?
JA: I just like to relax and have a good time with people. My personality really shines when I have time to relax and have a decent conversation with someone. I love getting to know people, and I’ve always been like this, and I guess chilling is the best way to encapsulate it. I love to chill, and everyone knows me as a chiller, so I do what I know best.

A: You’re from Ohio. What’s that like?
JA: I went to Shaker Heights High School, but I live in Richmond Heights now. I’m not really a city kid. Some kids might think I’m a city kid, but I’m really not. Where I live is a really rural, suburban area. It’s peaceful. A lot of cul-de-sacs. A lot of deer and wild turkeys running around. Birds chirping. I like that kind of environment where everything is open space, a lot of green, no fences, so everyone’s yard connects. I think living in that environment helps with being in harmony and connected with people.

A: When did you first start wrestling?
JA: I started wrestling in the sixth grade. Didn’t really know what was going on, but I was freakishly strong for how small I was. Within two weeks of practice, they’re like, “We have our first tournament, you should come!” I was like, “Ok.” I just pinned everyone and won the tournament and that was when I decided, “Well, I’m gonna wrestle.”

A: How do you like being on the wrestling team?
JA: So far it’s been a really special experience. To be a student athlete and to be a Wesleyan wrestler takes a lot of commitment, especially because I’m a double major in biology and environmental science, and I’m pre-med. It’s almost like having your nose on the grindstone all day, every day for five months straight. It really weighs down on your mind and your body, but it shows you as long as you’re organized and determined and know exactly what you want to do, anyone can do it.

I’m definitely going to cherish these four years here until the day I die because it’s taught me that anything I believe I can do, I can do. Even though the process might suck—I might be tired, hurt, hungry, frustrated because I feel like I don’t have enough time to balance out my schedule between wrestling and school—I always find a way to get it done. They say, once you’ve wrestled, everything else in life is easy. I say, once you’ve wrestled and been a Wesleyan student at the same time, then everything else is extremely easy.

A: You’re limping right now. Do you normally limp when you come back from these tournaments?
JA: All the time. Always busted up. Nothing that a little bit of rest and relaxation and Ibuprofen can’t fix.

A: What’s the community like on the team?
JA: We’re just one big happy family. Everyone looks out for each other. We all comfort each other in tough times. Everyone has their own personality, and we all balance each other out, too. That’s how it’s been for years. We all hang out together, and we all succeed together. We just [have] great team chemistry, and we all love each other very much. And we’re a family. We always say we love each other in practice and after practice.

A: What advice do you have for people who want to be better at chilling?
JA: Be comfortable being uncomfortable. Coming from Ohio, I wouldn’t say it’s the most liberal of places. When I first came to Wesleyan, it was kind of a culture shock. There might’ve been a few things that made me uncomfortable, but as long as someone respected my personal space and vice versa and there was this mutual love and respect, I’m just like, “Okay, yeah, we have a common ground, now we can build from there.”

If some[one] makes you uncomfortable, don’t always shun them away. Just understand this is how people are, and people are people, and deep down everyone just wants to be themselves and coexist and be happy. It’s easy just to go along with it and get to know people for who they are, not what they appear to you as. Just give people a chance. There are so many diverse backgrounds and life stories and histories that people have to offer. You just have to be willing to listen.

A: How has being in Psi U affected your Wesleyan career?
JA: I’ve gotten to know a lot of people. I wouldn’t say I’m the frattiest individual in the world. It’s given me a good base to build other relationships with other people in other frats, too. Before I joined Psi U, I didn’t really know DKE dudes. But after that, I started chilling in DKE more and made really good friends. It’s just good to branch out and have a support base and get to know people more.

A: You’re also a nude model for art classes. How’d that start?
JA: Both my parents are artists. I draw a ton. I really love art, but I didn’t want to be an art major because I grew up with it, so I’m just like, “Phh.” I just decided to do it because one of my teammates that graduated last year—he was a TA—and he was like, “Want to do this and get paid?” My rationale was like, “I think I have a pretty good body, I work really hard to keep myself sculpted and in shape, so you know what? I think I’m definitely comfortable showing it off and getting paid to do so.” I guess in parentheses: I work hard for mine. Once again, it’s just about being comfortable being uncomfortable.

A: Is it ever awkward when people recognize you around campus from that context?
JA: No. I don’t care. Not to sound cocky, but once again, I work hard for mine. So I will show it off in a decent context.

A: Do you plan to be a doctor?
JA: I’d like to be. I really like helping people. I think as far as that’s concerned, it looks really good on paper, but I’m really leaning towards working for the Green Corps. I have a second-round interview coming up at the end of this month. I’d like to get the position and do some environmental campaigning.

A: What inspired this career path?
JA: I think the typical or stereotypical Wesleyan way of addressing a big issue is like, “Oh yeah, fuck the man!” I think that’s nonsense. I think the most effective way to get things done is by working with the people you’re rivals against, because an ant can’t fight a giant. But if you befriend a giant and infiltrate that system and whisper in the giant’s ear and come up with a lucrative plan that fits their frame of thinking and also fits your agenda, that’s how you get real work done.

Once again, it forms a common base that you can build off of instead of having nothing alike. People are more similar than they are different, both ideologically, and from a genetic level, too.

A: How do you think that lesson applies to life at Wesleyan?
JA: When I came to Wesleyan, I was still into sports, but I hung out with a lot of kids that don’t play sports. I noticed here there’s a huge divide between some people playing the dumb jocks and the hipsters and stuff. So I noticed just from interacting with people that identify themselves as polar opposite groups that once again people are more similar than they are different. Once again, give people a chance. And don’t be judgmental about what kind of clothes someone wears or how someone presents themselves. Judge them on the character they are deep inside and not what they outwardly appear as. You realize you can pretty much hang out with anyone.

A: You worked at a hospital for a few summers, right?
JA: I worked at the Diamond Headache Clinic in Chicago. I was an intern there for two years. They specialize in treatment of acute and periodic headache, migraine, and facial pain.

The biggest lesson I learned from that is the example shown through the biofeedback process. The mind can control so much. The mind controls how you view the world and how you go about dealing with pain, physically, emotionally, and mentally. I just got out of that that as long as I believe that I can do something, then it’s just going to happen. I know that my mental will is really, really powerful. They said man would never fly a couple hundred years ago. Now they have jets. That comes from a thought! All originates from a thought.

Our minds are so powerful; at some point, humans can sculpt the planet. So we have the power for a lot of good and a lot of bad. So why waste time destroying things and f-ing things up? Why don’t you just use your mind and really believe in what you can do? If one person believes and someone else believes, it spreads like a virus. Think of all the social movements that have occurred throughout history. Thought! That’s it. You can do anything you want with your mind.

A: What do a lot of people not know about you on campus?
JA: Deep down, I’m a huge teddy bear [cracks up]. Sometimes people think I’m a big muscly goon who’s just going to mollywamp somebody or something. That’s not me at all! I’m the biggest teddy bear. My mom calls me a teddy bear.

One of my closest friends here, his dad tells me: “You’re not the Nigeria nightmare, you’re the Nigeria teddy bear!” That’s just how I am, dude. I wouldn’t hurt a fly, dude. I wouldn’t hurt a fly. Even kids I’m rivals with—we’re all cool. We’re chilling! We’re all hanging out in our downtime. Just be chill.

  • The Kid

    Jefferson is the man and I’m glad I’ve gotten to know him at Wesleyan. He’s a true example of someone we can learn from