Like a chocolate Easter bunny


Ian Major

Jeff Capen

Jeff Capen first visited the Johnson area when he was roughly 14 years old; his family had a timeshare at the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe. He toured JSC when he was 21 and fell in love with the geographical location, the people he met, how the dining hall at the time seemed to resemble a ski lodge, and the overall community aspect of the college. When first coming to JSC for college, Capen says he did alright, but got into the same troubles that a lot of other young adults get into, so he took some time off from school. Since his return to JSC, Capen attained his B.A. in 2014 and began working on his M.A., which he received this past May in higher education and administration. Basement Medicine recently had the opportunity to have a sit down with this seeming JSC Ambassador to discuss a variety of both personal and odd topics.



What was your childhood like?
I was born and raised in Plymouth, Mass. Consisting of about 60,000 people and being 140 square miles, there was still a kind of rural Vermont mix that came with it. Being far away from people, but it’s still considered to be suburbs. I played a lot of sports and became an Eagle Scout too. I wasn’t a perfect kid and I’m still not a perfect adult. Overall, I like talking about my family life, but it wasn’t fun. I grew up with tons of tragedies and traumas that people experience; I didn’t have the best of friends sometimes. It’s always been about overcoming struggles and pushing myself onto resources that can help.



What are your favorite things to do?
For starters I’m a geek, I totally love academic conversations. The other day I left a class and a kid and I were talking about a book we had discussed for a good 40 minutes after the class. I like the experience of being able to go and see what everyone is doing on campus, like going to sporting events and things like that. I like going on hikes and enjoying the time that they allow you to spend with people without all of the day-to-day distractions in life. Creating relationships with other people is what makes life richer, fun and more enjoyable. Aside from that, I like to binge-watch Netflix and play pickup hoops with the guys in the gym.



What is the worst thing that anyone has ever said to you?
To get to the point, I think the worst thing that anyone has ever said to me was something that they didn’t think they were saying about or to me. When I hear people bastardizing sexual orientation by using terms like faggot and queer, it annoys me. I’m lucky because I’m bisexual, so I float around the universe and people don’t know who or what I am. If you looked at me, you wouldn’t think to yourself that I’m probably gay. The worst thing I’ve ever heard said about me was something that people thought they were saying about someone else, but they were saying it about me. That’s the worst thing, hearing the vile and prejudice that comes with other people’s lifestyles.



What do you consider to be your greatest achievement in life so far?
So I took a workshop and changed it around a little bit into something where I delivered this transformational experience to a room with 200. Everyone involved with it comes from some sort of different state of brokenness. Through this two and a half hour workshop you can see the shift in people from despair and hopelessness to love, caring, nurturing, understanding and gratitude. I love delivering this, because I can start this workshop and there can be some proper looking librarian girl next to an ex-gang member where both are crying about how happy they are because they have had this change in life. To be able to do things like this for other people by using skillsets that help add to people’s lives like is what I would call my rush. I would say that this feeling for me is very similar to what adrenaline junkie’s experience.



What is the greatest impact you think you have made on a person?
I’ve earned the trust of a lot of people, from helping millionaires to homeless bums. I would say that one of the coolest things that I’ve done was befriending someone who had killed someone in an alcohol related incident. They had been jailed, gone through probation, therapist counseling, as well as gone through a number of resources. For over 10 years, this person lived with the heavy weight that came with it all. After everything he went through, as well as myself having the opportunity to work with him, he was able to overcome it all and let go of the guilt. He even ended up getting recognition from one of the daughters of the guy that he had killed. She noted the things he was doing to change his life, and spread the word about what he did and how wrong it was. This is certainly one of the highlights for me because of its intensity. Sometimes it’s just the greatest thing to simply walk into someone who is not comfortable speaking in class or confident enough to join a club too. These are equally as important to me, but this one in particular is more dramatic in a sense.



Who or what has been a big influence in your life?
Being given the opportunity to explore spirituality, meditation or prayer — whatever you would want to call it. I think that having some sort of spiritual involvement is what helps me deal with anything from tough family situations to tough homework situations. I think a spiritual life can help sort out and solve a lot of problems. Some people think serenity is the absence of confidence. I like the other definition that serenity is not the absence of confidence, it’s just the ability to deal with things with a level head.



Where and what do you see yourself doing in five years?
When I moved up here, I bought a mobile home with intentions of staying. For my long-term goal, I would want to be the head coach of the men’s soccer team and teach four or five classes, as well as one study abroad trip. I love JSC and the people here. I really want to stay here and get paid for it.



If you won the lottery, what is the first thing you would do?
Every time I buy lottery tickets, I review my plan. I would immediately bring the ticket to a safe security deposit box. I would get together a team consisting of a lawyer, accountant and financial planner and set up a corporation to file the ticket through that, anonymizing my existence as a person. I would then go to Disney World with my team on a private jet and stay there for 30 days so I would have time to relax and plan on how I want to spend this money.



What is the first thing you would do if you knew the world would end tomorrow?
You are asking a weird person — I constantly think about death. I’m very aware of the impermanence of life. I live every day believing that I am going to die and I try to live in accordance with it, so I’m not really missing anything. I wouldn’t have a desperate message to give to someone. I’m doing it, I’m living the dream. I don’t think it would change much of anything.



You’re on death row — what is your last meal?
I would rather eat chocolate then breathe. I would like to be dropped into a pool of chocolate, pass out and die. I would then be framed up like Han Solo, but more like a chocolate Easter bunny.



What is a favorite place you have traveled?
I never wanted to travel internationally. I think there is a lot of great space in the United State and a lot of great geographies, regions, zones, cultures and things here. They had a class here about going on the Cuba trip and that opened my eyes. The benefits to take a class, study abroad, earn credits and have academic value as well seemed like a really cool thing. There are other things you can do to study abroad like taking advantage of JSC’s exchange program, or through other organizations. I did the study abroad in London and France. JSC offers so many resources that should be taken advantage of. As a result of all of this, the best travel trip that I have ever been on was in the summer of 2014. I had classes at JSC for French history, and I did three weeks in London too. My favorite part of the trip was that I got to walk the Camino de Santiago. It is a religious pilgrimage that about 140,000 people do each year, and I fell in love with it because of the movie “The Way.” Even though I was never actually planning to do the walk, when I was prepping for everything, I thought that this is something I need to do. So I walked 550 miles from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, France, over the Pyrenees, all the way across to the Spain coast to a fishing village called Finisterre. It changed my perspective on a lot of things like how much I like to walk now to how to meet people, and what a vacation can be. It raised a lot of questions beyond the physical endurance aspect. I would love to form a class here where we would walk the Camino during a summer as a part of a three credit course.



What is something on the top of your bucket list?
I am working on several things that have to deal with colleges. First off, I would love to start my own college. I’ve already bought the web domain name for it, and it will literally be called “The Most Amazing College.” One idea I have is to completely base a college on travel — you wouldn’t have a campus and it’s not really distance learning either. It would all be study abroad based. I’ve been working on it for about a year trying to figure out the costs and administrative side of things. I like the idea of starting a college. I think I could build a very enriching sort of school that would allow people to be successful. This all ties back into what causes my rush.



What do you want to see in JSC for the future?
I’m not really religious or anything and I don’t go to church, but I think that in the Bible somewhere it says something about the concept of a city on a hill. It’s told through a parable, so when you read the story you might just think it is about a city on a hill. Really, they are talking about your soul. In other words, how do you develop yourself in such a way that it shines out to the rest of the world so that it is something to be attracted to? To that end, what I would want to see at JSC is to develop from the ground up in all avenues, contained, operational college. We are geographically located to be the premiere hotel and hospitality management school in the country. We have a great location that puts at ground zero to six different ski resorts. I envision shuttles that go to each ski mountain. I wouldn’t say this is the technology hub of the country, but this is a place where you can become really good at some level of hotel hospitality management, which is a great business degree to have. If we could intertwine all of these things, we could turn this place into an educational spot that serves as a declinational resort. We could combine the resort idea with education so that this could become a learning college similar to the whole learning hospital idea. We could turn Martinetti into a hotel and have it be student run. From housekeeping to the bookkeeping, we could prepare the best hospitality and tourism majors. This is the spot.