DJ is a student at Auburn University studying Computer Science and Electrical Engineering, amid a campus of students donned nearly uniformly in t-shirts, shorts, tennis shoes, and backpacks carrying athletic gear, under a bright, sunny, and slightly humid spring day.
He was born and raised in Alabama, but hopes to move to California once he graduates. He just hopes he can find a job, hopefully at a technology company. In Auburn, he has a close relationship with his dad, Danny, and they see each other often.
In the last few years, they've driven to San Diego, California to help build houses for Mexican families in need, south of the border. They’re thinking of making it a family tradition, because it’s such fulfilling work to do on their free time.
DJ also has a few differences, some expected and some surprising, that sets him apart from some more liberal-identifying folks his age. He goes to church regularly. He doesn’t have the signs of an oncoming quarter life crisis like so many of his peers. Nor does he pine for things like untold riches, disproportionately sized career successes, nor an unlimited number of dates with beautiful women.
When we spoke with him, DJ was always calm and collected, and had an accepting attitude towards life. As an even-keeled guy, he didn't make a big deal out of himself, nor was he self-deprecating. He took conversation in earnest but wasn't so serious as to give the impression that he can’t take a joke. Overall, he was relaxed and matter-of-fact in the way he explained his answers to our questions, as if we were quizzing him on his knowledge of an emotionally neutral topic, like technology or history.
We admire his straight shooting attitude and contentment towards life and we hope you will too.
What’s it like living here (on campus)?
It’s great. There’s everything you need here. My dorm room was supposed to be a double but they didn’t have anyone take the other bed so I have the place to myself.
I go to classes, the dining halls, the gym, and hang out with my group [of friends]. There's four of us.
We know each other from kindergarten in Auburn, the three of us, our parents all know each other, we used to go to each other's houses all the time. And the fourth guy, he joined us in freshman year, he's from South Korea but his parents now know our parents.
Thoughts on Technology
As a computer science and engineering student, what are you looking forward to seeing happen in technology?
I really like what Elon Musk is doing with the idea of AI (artificial intelligence) and autonomous vehicles (self-driving cars). The one thing is it probably won't work with large trucks around the more rural parts, because it's a lot more difficult to control high mass vehicles.
Trump As A Leader
How do you feel about Trump and his stance on women and minorities?
I don’t agree with it, that women or any minorities should be treated any differently than anyone else, but...my dad and I, we respect his position.
What do you admire about Trump as a leader?
Because he says what he's going to do and he does it? He worked hard to build his company. So he earned it, and he deserves the power he has now. Even though I don’t agree with everything he says, he’s going to be our leader and that’s okay, we accept it as it is. He’s not perfect, but no one is.
The Confederate Flag
There’s a confederate flag hanging here...what does it stand for to you?
It was taken down in South Carolina, which was not good for us. We don’t fly it outside our house anymore. It used to be hanging out and now there’s a lot of negativity around it, because people think it’s about racism.
What does it really mean?
It’s not about racism, it’s about traditional culture, just like the Civil War was about the economy and a way of life.
Friends Coming Out As Gay
If one of your close friends came out as gay, how would you feel about it?
It would be wrong. I don’t know what else to say about this. It’s not right.
Even if he were your best friend?
What would you do with your friend if he’s gay?
We [his group of close friends] would definitely do an intervention and try to set him on the right path.
There's no other way.
What makes you think it’s wrong?
Because it’s in the Bible. You can’t, you know, it’s evolution - we can’t reproduce otherwise.
Thoughts on Life and the Future
Is there anything that worries you?
Last year my dad had to go in for heart surgery. We were waiting once he finished and got out of the ER. We were too worried though. If he had died, God would have taken care of him from there, and it would have been out of our hands. And he said afterwards he would have been fine if he had died. He didn't have any regrets or anything.
Other than my dad, I don't know...not worried about much. I'm pretty happy with life. I know everything is a process. Like I want to move to San Diego. But that's only once I finish school. So it just takes time. Things are pretty good.