Hometown: Shoreview, Minn.
Major: English (Creative Writing); Cognitive Science (self-designed)
What he does: Writes for the student newspaper The Round Table; plays Beloit Ultimate Frisbee (BUFF); serves as president of ski/snowboard club−“the club nobody knows exists”; and performs in a sketch comedy group called 10,000 AD.
What drew him to Beloit: The small campus is what really appealed to me. The small campus and the small classes because it made everything so much more personal. That has been my experience here−I’ve felt very present in everything and I don’t just feel like a number in a big class.
His “very Beloit” moment: We had just found out that (President Barack) Obama won and there were about 150 people at (popular campus hangout) The Wall going crazy and celebrating. So I got up on top of The Wall and started singing the national anthem and everyone joined in with me.
On being published: I submitted the story to a website called JukePop Serials and a few months later they got back to me saying that they wanted to publish it. Then they also said they would pay me a hundred dollars for it and I just thought, I would have given it to you for free, but they paid me and put it up on their site right away. It was a surreal day. It was a crazy experience seeing my work with my name on their site. They made a big announcement on the site’s Facebook page that said, “Introducing our new author Dan Birkholz,” and I just thought, Whoa that’s me!
On not studying abroad: Honestly, I like Beloit so much that I can’t imagine even taking one semester off from it. I’m going to be here four years and that’s it. I love it here so much that I don’t want to take away from any of that. I do want to travel and go places in the world, but I have the rest of my life after Beloit for that. Beloit is four years and then it’s done.
On declaring and self-designing a major: My whole life I’ve enjoyed writing, and I’ve always felt that I was good at it. All of the professors who teach writing classes here are just great. I’ve had great experiences in class, and they’re not only great professors but role models as well. I chose to also study cognitive science because of the interdisciplinary aspect of it–studying the mind from all angles and all sides. I love that approach. (Assistant Professor of Cognitive Science) Robin Zebrowski is so passionate about her work and taking her class really got me interested in the field. She is starting a cognitive science department, but for now it’s self-designed. It’s a lot of work because the board requires perfection. You have to really want to do it.
On playing Ultimate Frisbee: The game of Ultimate Frisbee is so enjoyable. There are such great people on the team; like the name says they’re a family. It’s Beloit Ultimate Frisbee FAMILY. We do take it seriously and do drills, but a lot of our time is just playing pickup and having fun. This is my first year and we’ve already gone to Appleton, Wis., for a tournament. We travel all around Wisconsin and during spring break we’re going to Georgia. It’s always a good time, every day.
On his journey last summer: I lived on Vashon Island in Washington last summer working at a summer camp. I wanted to be in the Pacific Northwest, so I got free food and board all summer with this camp counselor position. I got paid like a dollar an hour and all my money basically went to a plane ticket there and back home, but it was worth it to live out there. Next summer I’m going to try to live in Seattle.
Looking toward the future: Ideally I would live in the Pacific Northwest and write and be happy. Writing will be involved in whatever profession or career path I take. The kind of writing is up in the air. I’ll have to see where life takes me.
Read Dan’s story on JukePop Serials here.