Jeff Cheney, 19, sociology major, recounts his life through the voice of someone who found a way to overcome the difficulties of student-life through surfing.Cheney admits that he did not always have a focused outlook to his studies. In the last two years in high school he went through a ditching streak. “I ended up blowing my entry into UCSC because I wanted to go surfing,” he said. Cheney remembers days when he pretended to go to school, hiding his surfboard outside his house, and riding the metro blue line with it. “In that respect, I over-abused surfing,” he said.
Currently in his third semester at PCC, he pursues his academic interests with an unassuming, yet focused attitude, as would be expected of someone who used to carry his surfboard on the metro Blue Line to the beach. The Cheney of today is relentlessly dedicated to surfing and his schoolwork.
“I schedule my classes in a way so I can fit a good amount of time for surfing,” he said. On days when his classes begin in the afternoon, as early as 7 or 8 a.m. he heads out to Huntington Beach, or El Porto. On the weekends Cheney periodically visits Ventura County to pick up on favorable “swells.” After class, depending on the day, he also tends to head out.
“Coming to PCC, I learned you have to set the boundary somewhere,” he said. Speaking on community colleges in general, he sees them as a chance to “develop a sense of being a good student.”
“Utilizing your potential [in school relates] to the progression in surfing,” he said. “If I have a tough day at school surfing brings me back to [my] equilibrium.” You contemplate all angles and focus on a positive outcome, he said.
Richard Hasselberber, 22, undecided, could not agree more. “Surfing is a very humbling experience,” he said. He added, “The ocean is so unpredictable: you can [be] ridding a wave for half a minute, and the next you could be tossed and pummeled by the water. It’s a self-disciplined sport.”
Cheney has gone through a logical progression of sports leading up to surfing: starting with skateboarding in middle school, then water polo and the swim team in high school. Cheney’s years playing water polo instilled in him a sense of challenging one self and “always pushing yourself.”
“Sports teaches you about how to live amongst other people,” he said. “[By the same token] I like surfing because it’s an individual sport.”
“Progression is separate from competition,” he said. In his eyes, it is more of an internal conflict. “Sports like surfing and skateboarding build out of confidence as well as competition,” he said.
Cheney is majoring in sociology and is planning to minor in business administration. “I am majoring in sociology because not only does it deal with culture, but psychology, and putting yourself in [another] person’s perspective.”
“At this point in my life the whole theme is [to be] goal-oriented.” If Cheney has any advice to give it would be: “Identify what the situation is, slow down and appreciate what’s around you.
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