Although he identifies as an introvert, Pablo Wickham ’21 is famous all over campus for being outgoing and knowing everyone. Whether in the theatre community or the world of neuroscience, chances are you’ve run into him somehow and recognized his easy-going, friendly spirit. The Argus Zoomed with Pablo to get the inside scoop on his classes, post-grad plans, and favorite memories from Wes.
The Argus: How has your break been? What have you been up to?
Pablo Wickham: I’m in the lab right now. That’s pretty much been my break, I’ve been on campus the entire time. I’m just working between the Naegle Lab and the Robinson Lab, working with mice and rats. It’s pretty eventful.
A: What is that like?
PW: I actually love working with animals. This is my first time working with rats, and I feel like a lot of people get squeamish when they think about rodents, but the rats are so adorable, so friendly. They remind me of a cat I have back home in Jamaica. It’s fun working with them and doing the experiments.
A: What kind of experiments do you do?
PW: With the rats, we do operant conditioning and behavioral experiments on them. We’re testing risky behavior. For the mice, we do epilepsy research, working with stem cells.
A: What are you majoring in?
PW: Neuroscience and Theater, with a minor in Chemistry.
A: How do you feel about graduating?
PW: So, last year, when the Class of 2020 wasn’t able to graduate, I was like, ah, I hope we will be able to graduate, but the closer we get to that point, I’m coming to terms that we may not have a “normal” graduation. I feel like, unlike [the class of 2020], I’ve had more time to come to terms with it, so I’m kind of less disappointed. It would have been nice to cross the stage and have all family and friends here to celebrate this huge accomplishment, this milestone, but… hopefully, that could still happen. But if it doesn’t, it was a fun four years, and at the end of the day, I have a lot of great memories, and I will keep those with me.
A: For sure. Do you have any post-graduation plans?
PW: Go back home to Jamaica for the summer, just to relax. And then afterward, I’m off to Oxford University.
A: What are you doing there?
PW: I hope to be doing a post-graduate in Neuroscience. Fingers crossed, I’m still waiting for results, but I will be at Oxford because I got the Rhodes Scholarship. I’m just waiting for the program.
A: Wow, congratulations! Outside of academics, what are you involved with on campus?
PW: Outside of my academics, I am part of the YAADI, Jamaica’s student club on campus, for those who are from Jamaica and for those who are interested in Jamaican culture. I’m also part of the Minority Association for Pre-Medical Students (MAPS). I am the MAPS representative, so I’m like a liaison between our chapter and our local club here on campus. I used to do Mock Trial, up to my junior year, then I stopped. I am also senior class president, on the Honor Board and the Community Standards board, and I used to do acting before COVID. I’m somewhat involved because I’m props-designing for a production that’s going up this semester, but my acting days, I’m taking a hiatus, so to speak.
A: That’s a lot. You must be busy.
PW: [laughs] If I’m not doing something, I get so bored easily.
A: What have been your favorite classes that you’ve taken at Wesleyan?
PW: Recently I took this class called “Face the Blank Page,” it’s a playwriting class. I thought I would absolutely hate it, because I hate writing. I hate putting thoughts to paper, but I took the class, and because I’m predominantly an actor, I was like, I don’t want to do this, I don’t have any creative thoughts. But I gained that encouragement from my professor and from my peers, because we had to read our work out loud—actually, they read our work out loud and we had to evaluate it objectively every week. It built my confidence. It was so intimidating at first, but eventually, I started to find my playwright’s voice, and I actually finished a play, so that’s exciting, and I’m looking to continue writing in my spare time. And that’s not something I really expected to get out of the class. Now I feel like I want to keep writing. Not just reproducing other people’s work by acting it out, but also making my own work that other people can act out.
Another class I took…I really loved a class I took also last semester, “Neurobiology of Neurological Disorders.” Just to be able to see all the concepts you’ve been learning in the introductory courses come together and talk about the clinical disorders and seeing that play out at a research that’s going towards trying to find a cure and treatment for these things. I thought it was really cool. I got to do a lot of incredible articles.
A: Any favorite memories from your time at Wesleyan?
PW: I have so many memories, but which would be my favorite…that is the question. Bahari my freshman year, that was incredible. I got to host that. Unfortunately, we haven’t had another since, for various reasons. But Bahari, the Caribbean concert on campus, was just phenomenal. The Caribbean community and others come and witness what it’s like when you throw down and have fun. I’ve done TERP a couple of times, that’s also an incredible experience. I’ve been to a Burlesque show, that was also…wow, absolutely phenomenal. Tickets are hard to get. I was supposed to be part of the show last year, but because of Corona, that got canceled. Hopefully, we can do it this semester, it’s going to be different, maybe virtual, but hopefully, I can audition and complete my Wesleyan experience. I’m not the best dancer, but I enjoy being on the stage and just having fun.
A: Do you have any advice for your first-year self?
PW: First, I would say, you belong here. Because you come to Wesleyan, new environment, culture shock, and you have imposter syndrome, I feel like almost every freshman has it. You’re here for a reason, you earned your spot here, that’s really comforting to hear. And you will find your way here, don’t sweat it so much. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Somehow I feel like I had to do a lot of things on my own, but I’m getting better at it, and it’s something I would tell my freshman self. Have fun, these four years go by so quickly. Make the most of it. Get to know as many people on campus as possible, because that will really make your Wesleyan experience epic. And I guarantee you’ll learn most of the things from life outside of the classroom. Academics [are] just one aspect of your college experience. Take risks. If it doesn’t work out, don’t be afraid to let go. You don’t have to hold on to certain things. But yeah, just have fun.
A: How would your friends describe you?
PW: Dramatic [laughs]. As expected, as a theater major, and that’s the excuse I use often when I am termed as such. They would describe me as outgoing, too. I like to think that I’m an introvert, but they’re like, No, Pablo, you’re very social, you talk to everybody, who are you kidding. [They’d also describe me as] weird and peculiar. I have some weird pet peeves and interests, I’m very particular. I think that pretty much sums it up.
A: Anything else you want to include?
PW: I’m curious as to who nominated me. I was like, what? But I’m grateful, so thank you so much.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Annie Roach can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org