Arts & Entertainment Editor
Imagine this: you are a space pirate with a tiny little hat, off to fight the bad guys (or, really, anyone who is in your way) with a really cool first mate by your side. This was one of the first things Adam Gonzales talked about when I met him.
We talked about goals and lifelong dreams, and, believe me, space pirate was the last thing I expected him to say. However, he thoroughly convinced me to join him in his endeavors. Sounds fun, right? Meet fourth-year Adam Cooper Gardea Gonzales — and, yes, those are all his last names. Despite meeting him during the pandemic, there has never been a dull moment with him. While he finishes his training to become a space pirate, he has also been finishing up a major in English with a creative writing concentration.
So, how does a space pirate-in-training end up at Whittier College? Gonzales said that Whittier was close enough to commute, and they offered him scholarship money (to which we then started quoting John Mulaney). Another thing he liked was that the College is small. “I don’t like people, I don’t like big things,” said Gonzales. This allows you to get close to certain professors, he told me. One professor that Gonzales calls ‘a homie’ is Visiting Assistant Professor of English Bethany Wong. They would often have “real-life adult” conversations. One time, when Gonzales stepped out of class, he met Wong as she was going down the stairs to her office. She stopped to talk to him for around 20 minutes, and then he mentioned that he had to go back to class. They ended up talking for about 10 more minutes anyways.
Gonzales mentioned that he coached freshman football at John Glenn High School. Before coming to Whittier, Gonzales went to Buena Park High School, where he played varsity football. He decided not to continue playing, coming into Whittier, but he decided he wanted to help coach kids. He has told me many stories about how much fun he had coaching. The kids would often challenge him to do things, and, one time, he was challenged to a tire flip race. He ended up beating the kid by miles; there was a video taken of the race and, at one point, they were not even in the same frame. Unfortunately, though, the pandemic cut Gonzales’ time coaching short.
Gonzales originally started off on the Pre-Med track, but he realized that was not the path he wanted to take. “I like science; I’ve always been passionate about science, but I didn’t want to start my career almost in my 30s. Also, medical school debt wasn’t something I wanted to have,” so, Gonzales switched his major to English. “I chose English because I’ve always liked writing stories. I’ve used books, comic books, manga, anime, TV shows, etc. as aggressive forms of escapism when I was younger,” he said. Gonzales hopes that whatever he writes and creates can be used as escapism for another kid, even if it is just one.
Another reason Gonzales changed his major was that he struggled a lot with his mental health the first two years of his college career. “There’s definitely a large mental health adjustment that no one prepares you for,” he said. However, Gonzales’ father, who he describes as wise in weird ways, said something that stuck with him: “Life is like a river of sh—t. It’s constantly storming sh—t and most of the time you’re waist to chest deep, and you just [have to] keep wading because the times when it’s only ankle-deep are the times where it’s not so bad. You might not even smell it.” He is not sure why it stuck with him the way it did, but it had some sort of profound effect.
Even though Gonzales thinks he accomplished “just about jacksh—t,” he managed to do some exciting things his senior year. “My most notable accomplishments at Whittier have been my senior year during COVID by having articles in the QC, having a short story in the Greenleaf Review, and becoming Assistant Arts & Entertainment Editor at the QC.” The person that helped him do all that is Kim Tsuyuki (hey, that is me!). Gonzales’ path to the Quaker Campus was a fun one: “I was dating a staff writer who became the A&E editor, and she needed an assistant. I had pitched an idea to her while driving around Arcadia at like 11 p.m., and she ran with it,” he said. Afterwards, we had a conversation talking about the position and what he would have to do; he was incredibly enthusiastic about taking on the position. Since then, he has become my partner in just about everything I do; we have become a great team to take on space.
For now, being a space pirate is still his ultimate goal, but Gonzales is hoping that his time at the Quaker Campus and his degree will take him where he wants to go next. “I hope that, through connections, I can find a job within a year from graduating — any kind of writing job. I want to work on my own short stories, refining my portfolio because you never know when things might come up,” he said. However, Gonzales has always had a backup goal in case things don’t pan out. “I think I’d apply for an MFA, and look at becoming a professor. [ . . .] I think that’ll be interesting because I like working with kids. I think I’d be a pretty cool professor,” he said.
Overall aspirations for Gonzales entail writing his own shows. His face lit up just talking about it. “I’d love to run my own writing room; that’d be the coolest,” he said. Another possible goal would be going into music; he made a little excited noise when he thought about it. He is currently in a band with his cousin called “ghosts in my room,” and they are planning on releasing their EP soon.
For now, you can find Gonzales working at The Cheesecake Factory and writing his heart out. While he may not be entirely sure what he is going to do next, I have no doubt that it is going to be a big thing. I am sure we will see his name on a collection of short stories that are particularly about doing nothing but traversing a garden of thoughts, time, and made-up things.
Featured Image: Adam Gonzales, Sage Amdahl / Quaker Campus