Robert Ramos ’16 wants to be your friend—and the chances are good that he already is. A biology and Earth & Environmental Science double major from Philadelphia, Ramos sat down with The Argus to talk about marine biology, Zayn Malik, and his drag persona—the alluring Layla Cascade.
The Argus: Why are you a WesCeleb?
Robert Ramos: I’d say I’m a WesCeleb because I actively try and make friends. I see a stranger, and it’s not like, “Oh, I don’t know you, so I don’t want to talk to you.” It’s, “Who are you? You’re an interesting person I haven’t met yet. I want to know more about you.” I think I take pride, and definitely pleasure, in experiencing new people.
A: Is it hard to maintain all of these friendships?
RR: It’s definitely difficult, especially when you don’t always see the same people from year to year. So I’ll make a ton of friends one year, and then not see half of them. But the thing about me is that I’m the kind of friend you can talk to and get really intimate with, and maybe not see for a couple of months. But then I’ll come back and talk to you, and we’ll pick it up right where we left off.
A: Would you rather have a lot of casual friendships, or a few really deep ones?
RR: I’d rather have deep ones. I definitely have a lot of friends that I talk to about superficial things, but every now and then, when life gets me down, I’m like, “I really need to talk to someone who genuinely gets me.” And I do feel like I have a group of friends that do genuinely get me, and I go to them for serious things. But everything else, I like to—not outsource, but almost.
A: What are you involved in on campus?
RR: I’m on the Ultimate Frisbee co-ed team, Throw Culture. I’m not involved in anything else at the moment, but I’ve been known to do a bunch of dance showcases. I’ve done Terp before, and Burlesque. And I really enjoy that—dancing.
A: I’ve always wondered this: Is Throw Culture a play on “throat culture”?
RR: No! Not throat culture. I actually am unsure of where our name started. But we do different plays on it. “Henry David Throw” is something we say sometimes. It’s definitely a culture. Frisbee is a mindset for us.
A: So what exactly is Throw Culture?
RR: Our goal is to have fun. It’s about the Frisbee, not about how well you do it. Everything we do in Throw Culture is meant to highlight the love of Frisbee.
A: Does everyone on the team have a nickname?
RR: Yes. Mine is “double Ds.” And that’s because I, whenever I d a disc, which is defending, I hit the disc down with two hands. I also did drag that year, and they were like, “You look like you have boobs!”
A: What’s your major?
RR: I’m a biology and Earth & Environmental Science double major.
A: What do you think you want to do after Wesleyan?
RR: I think I want to go into marine biology. I’m not sure where or how, but I’m really interested in island ecology. Hopefully I get a job on a boat somewhere.
A: Did you grow up by the beach?
RR: I actually grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania—a big city. There wasn’t a lot of nature. So now I’m like, “Oh my God, nature!”
A: Do you remember when it clicked for you that you love the ocean?
RR: Well, I’ve been interested in marine biology for a while, but nothing really led me in that direction except for when I went to Hawaii this past summer. I was doing research in oceanography. I took a couple classes in marine policy. And there was this one time [when] we were on a boat, sailing for a couple days and there was swim time. So I jumped off the boat, with goggles on, into the ocean. And I looked down, and it was just huge. Like, it was just so big and so vast, and it excited me in this weird way—it was almost scary. There was just this excitement. I was like, “Whoa! I’m going to discover everything about you.” I think that was the moment—when I was like, “Wow, this is so much greater than myself. And I’m going to tackle it anyway.”
A: How have you changed since freshman year?
RR: I think I’m the same “Oh, let’s be friends” Robert, just super happy and energetic all the time. But I feel like I understand myself a little better than I did freshman year. Now I have more of an idea of where I’m headed and who I am, and how my experiences have molded me.
A: Do you want to be famous?
RR: I used to think, “Yeah, I want to be famous.” Now I feel like when you’re super famous, everyone’s all in your life, and everyone’s all in your business, and I don’t necessarily want everyone in my business. So I would say no, I wouldn’t want to be famous. But I’d want to be recognized for something; so not, “Oh, there’s Robert Ramos, going to Starbucks,” but like, “Oh, there’s this guy named Robert Ramos and he did this super cool thing.” So I’d want to be famous in a scientific way, but not media fame, like rap.
A: Would you let fame go to your head if you were a celebrity?
RR: Oh my God, yes. I’d try not to. But I think at first it would go to my head, and I’d be all crazy, but then I’d have some sort of meltdown and be all normal after. I wouldn’t say I’m a Britney Spears, but maybe, I don’t know, like a Zayn [Malik] or something. Like, he’s cool, and then he did some weird stuff, but now he’s fine.
A: What is your weirdest Wesleyan moment?
RR: I lost my pants once. I’m talking, I woke up in my bed naked and couldn’t find my pants all day. All day Sunday, I had to run around, trying to find my pants. I was literally interviewing everybody, like, “When did you see me? What time was that? Was I really drunk? Was I wet—because it was raining?” The whole day was just the weirdest thing.
A: Where were your pants?
RR: After scouring the whole campus, they were actually across the street. I was in a house, lost my pants, and apparently my pants were in the house directly across the street from where I took off my pants.
A: Uh-oh. Do you think about that every time you wear the pants?
RR: Yes. I definitely am like, “I’m so glad I recovered you.” I still like them. They fit me well.
A: What are you dressing up as for Halloween?
RR: I’m actually going to do drag this Halloween. I do it… for the drag show that happens every year.
A: Do you always wear the same thing?
RR: No. I hate re-using an outfit. Every year, I’m like, “I need to buy this, and this.” And people are like, “Robert, don’t you have that?” And I’m like, “No, that was LAST year’s outfit.”
A: Who’s your drag persona?
RR: Her name is Layla Cascade. Layla because my mom said that if I was born a girl, she would haven named me Layla. And Cascade because a friend noticed how my hair was falling—cascading—over my shoulder.
A: What’s Layla’s story?
RR: Layla’s just a misunderstood femme fatale. She goes around enticing people with her dance moves. She’s a really good dancer.
This interview has been edited for length.