Rafael Fermin is a senior economics major originally from the Bronx where he has 13 pets at home. This week, The Catalyst sat down with Rafael Fermin to reveal one of Colorado College’s favorite community members.
THE CATALYST: HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE ONE OF THE MOST WELL KNOWN STUDENTS ON CAMPUS?
RAFAEL FERMIN: This question’s really funny because I feel like a lot of my friends say that, but I don’t know how well known I actually am on the broader CC campus. I feel like last year I was probably more well known because I had a lot of friends in the year above. But now, with all the freshmen and then having not known the freshman class last year that well, who are sophomores now, I feel like I’m probably well known in our grade and the junior grade, but that’s only, like, half of the school. Plus I feel like a lot of people know who I am but I’m not particularly close with that many people, so it’s, like, a very surface level thing.
TC: PLEASE LIST ALL OF THE ORGANIZATIONS YOU HAVE BEEN A PART OF DURING YOUR CC EXPERIENCE AND RANK THEM, PROVIDING YOUR REASONING.
RF: Relations is easily my favorite thing I’ve done at CC. The people involved are really cool. I love the Relations community and the conversations that the show sparks on campus are really interesting and things that we probably wouldn’t be talking about if Telations wasn’t athing. So it’s cool to contribute to that aspect of it. And we are really intentional about the space we create and the community we create among cast members and stuff like that. And so, in a way it felt like work because we were trying to put on a show, but it was also so so fun. And there’s a lot of laughing and crying and all that kind of stuff, which made it really rewarding for me. Acting and directing were super different from each other. When I was acting in it, I had a really good time. I was the only freshman in the class; I was kind of like the baby of the cast, which was cool because I got a lot of mentorship from the older people who were in the cast. But I had no clue about all the work that goes on behind the scenes as a director. And even when I got chosen to be a director, I accepted really quickly ‘cause I really wanted to be a part of it and really wanted to be a director. But I didn’t necessarily understand how much work it would be because, like, Relations sort of took over my life, especially in the second semester last year. It felt like every minute that I wasn’t in class or at work, I was doing Relations things; I was in rehearsal or I was outside of rehearsal working with a cast member trying to workshop one of the pieces, or hanging out with Christie and Ali trying to write new pieces and things like that. So I think being a director really showed me how much background work you have to do outside of even just producing a show. Like there are so many things that go into it that don’t involve, like, the performance aspect of it.
After that, maybe… It’s tough ‘cause I wanna say being an RA would be after that, but the circumstances under which that stopped being a thing weren’t great, so maybe it would be a little lower on my list.
I was on the board of SOSS for, like, a semester and I’ve been involved with it outside of that pretty loosely, but I really enjoyed being in SOSS because it opened my eyes to a lot of things that I just hadn’t really even considered before I had come to CC. And the organization as a whole does such amazing work on campus in terms of making the school, like, literally a physically safer place, which I really appreciate and I think the organization doesn’t get enough credit for.
I’ve loved being an admissions fellow. I only started this summer, but the idea that, like, we’re helping shape the next class that comes here is super cool. And being able to interview all the different students who are trying to apply here is awesome. It’s a little weird because I feel like if I had applied now, I, like, wouldn’t get in and it’s weird to think of that, but I really like it. I like everyone in the office; I like all the rest of the fellows and the ambassadors. It’s been such a good time since I started doing that. And it’s one of the things I look forward to a lot. Even though it is work, I look forward to my interviews and stuff; I look forward to my tours. So, I really like that.
Oh, I feel like Bridge should be higher; I messed up my rankings. But I loved being a part of Bridge. It really helped me, like, solidify myself on campus. I definitely needed that, for sure. It was nice to already have a group of people who shared similar interests, had similar backgrounds to me once everybody else got here, because I felt like it was less of a scramble to settle down when I got on campus. And it was cool to just get, like, an intro to the Block Plan. My Bridge class was one of the hardest classes I’ve taken at CC, including, like, the higher level econ classes I’ve taken and stuff like that — probably because I had Manya and Pedro as my professors. I loved it. It was super hard, and they graded us, not harshly but they were sticklers for good work. And I feel like that prepared me to, like, increase the quality of my work when CC started. ‘Cause I feel like I was kind of a slacker in high school and it was a nice, like, punch in the face as soon as I got here to realize that that wasn’t going to fly at CC. And the relationships I made with the other students and the mentors and stuff like that are some of my favorite relationships that I’ve had at CC, so that’s been good. I feel like QUAD would be pretty low on the list but that’s ‘cause I started like a week and a half ago so I haven’t had as much experience with it. But I’m happy that I’m doing it, especially because it’s giving me experience with things that I’m potentially considering doing after I graduate. Which is cool because I haven’t really done anything like that so far. But I’ve been enjoying it a lot. It’s really cool working with students from other schools because throughout QUAD you work with, like, people from Pikes Peak Community College and the Air Force Academy and UCCS. And so meeting people who aren’t a part of the CC community has been really cool. And it’s cool to be on a project that is helping the city of Colorado Springs, specifically, ‘cause I feel like at CC, we don’t have that many students who actually are from Colorado and a lot of us, like, come from somewhere that’s like halfway across the country, stay here for four years and enjoy all the resources and all the opportunities that are available here, give nothing back, and then just leave. So it’s cool to be working on a project that will have some sort of impact in Colorado Springs. I don’t think I’ve mentioned the Back Row yet. I’m trying to think of things I’ve been a part of outside of that but I can’t really think of any.
I love being in K Sig. It was really nice ‘cause I joined the fall of my freshman year. And so it was really cool to have older mentors on campus, specifically in K Sig because we’re a really diverse fraternity. And so I, like, latched on to a lot of the older students of color and they helped me navigate, like, life at CC — which I’m so thankful for. And even now I love all the boys. And there are people who I get into disagreements with and stuff like that, and like people that I may not see eye to eye with all the time, but there is like that genuine love at the base of it, which is really cool. And I know that they would do anything for me, I would do anything for them, so that’s really cool. And obviously it’s just, like, a lot of fun, too.
And then, the Back Row. It’s weird putting the Back Row last, ‘cause it definitely isn’t a bad thing. I loved being in the Back Row and I’m super excited to be in it again. The way that I left the group wasn’t the best way; I probably could have gone about it in a better fashion. But I mean, it happened and I’m super glad to be back in it now. All the new members that we have are really cool. It is kind of weird because a lot of the people that I was in the group with before aren’t in it right now because either they quit or they’re abroad right now and stuff like that. So it is a lot of new faces and we are a pretty small group right now. But I’m still really excited and I’m excited to sing again, ‘cause it’s something I really like doing. And I like performing and stuff like that so it’s cool to have the opportunity to be on stage again. But yeah, it’s a really good time. I really like singing, and I really like the boys who are in the group. It’s nice to have a sort of creative outlet ‘cause I’m not someone who, like, outside of Relations or outside of the Back Row, really taps into that all that often. And so it’s cool to have a structured time in my schedule where I can do that.
TC: WHAT DO YOU THINK OF GREEK LIFE AT COLORADO COLLEGE?
RF: I really enjoy being in Greek Life, but I like that the Greek community is such a small portion of our campus — it’s only like 10–15% of people are in Greek Life. I really enjoy the fact that it doesn’t have, like, a stranglehold on what the social scene is at CC. Because even though I am in a fraternity, I’m not necessarily, like, the big party kind of dude. Like obviously I go to parties and whatnot, but I like hanging out with, like, smaller groups of people in more intimate settings. And so it’s cool that Greek Life doesn’t have so much influence on the social scene here. I think obviously there are a lot of things that could be better about it and could be changed, particularly with creating safe spaces and all that kind of stuff. But I think there is work being done. Like people are being proactive in that sense, which is really cool — especially the younger grades — I mean, at least in K Sig. I don’t want to speak for the rest of the other organizations. But I’m really excited for where the younger students are gonna take it because I feel like they’re going to really improve the organization a lot. I think Greek Life is really valuable for the people who are in it because you make so many connections so fast and you have such a wide network of people with such different backgrounds and different interests that like you can tap into that whenever you need it. And obviously there’s the whole brotherhood aspect and sisterhood aspect of it. That’s really cool because I feel like, especially with the Block Plan, at least when you’re in classes with people, that’s not necessarily where you make your friendships because your classes change every month and so you’re not with the same group of people for all that long. But since in these Greek organizations you’re together, like, your entire CC career — at least in my case since I joined at the beginning — I feel like I’ve been able to establish a lot of really deep relationships through it.
TC: WHAT DO YOU EXPECT FROM THE NEW DABABY ALBUM RELEASE?
RF: I’m so excited for the new DaBaby album release. He’s my favorite rapper right now, not even just in terms of his music but his personality. And so it’s just going to be full of bangers and I’m gonna listen to it like 50 times all the way through before I listen to anything else and it’s gonna be amazing. I also like the antics he pulls. He raps about his life; like he’s not making up any of this stuff. And if people want problems with him, he’ll give them problems. And he’s not the type to start problems with people or anything like that, but he finishes them and I respect that about him.
TC: IF SOMEONE ASKED TO BE YOUR APPRENTICE AND LEARN ALL THAT YOU KNOW, WHAT WOULD YOU TEACH THEM?
RF: Probably just, like, how to relax and not stress out very much. I feel like especially here at CC, people are, like, really wound up and it’s so easy to let that take over your life and it can lead to, like, pretty bad places. Not that stress is inherently a bad thing, I feel like it’s a good thing ‘cause it, like, motivates us to to do what we have to do. But I think there are levels of stress that are just way too much and that happens a lot here at CC. And so just like finding ways to center yourself and ground yourself and just, like, calm down and realize that, like, a lot of the things you’re stressing about really aren’t that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things. I wouldn’t necessarily teach them the ways that I [relax]. I feel like it’s a really personal thing. I mean, I like to be alone, and I like to write, and I like to play video games and do things that get my head off of whatever it is that I’m, like, worrying about. But those things might not be what somebody else needs to clear their mind. And so I think it would be a lot of like talking with them about what helps them calm down and making sure that they prioritize that. I feel like a lot of the times taking care of yourself is something that isn’t prioritized and, yeah, I would try to make sure that they do that.
TC: IF YOU COULD BE ANY VIDEO GAME CHARACTER, WHO WOULD YOU PICK AND WHY?
RF: If I could be any video game character, I would be the… There’s this game called Limbo and it’s about this little boy who has to like go through all these different obstacles and solve all these puzzles to try to get to his sister. His sister was, like, taken and so he’s trying to get back to her. And I feel like that relationship is a good parallel for my relationship with my baby brother because I would do the same thing for him; I love him more than anything. And so yeah, I’d probably be the kid from Limbo. He doesn’t have a name but… I feel like the game would be fun. It’s a little scary but it’s really cool.
When I was in middle school I was just severely severely addicted to playing video games. Like, I would get home from school at like 4:00 or 5:00, play video games till like midnight and then start doing my work. Like, it definitely wasn’t a good look; there were definitely some way better things I could have been doing in my time. But yeah, there was this game Gears of War, which was the first game I got for the Xbox60. And in one of the game types called War Zone, I was in, like, the top 700 people in the world who played. And then Gears 5, the fifth version of the game, just came out. And as of right now my average score puts me in the top 5%. And then my accuracy of, like, hitting people with the bullets that I shoot puts me in the top 3%. So I’m still pretty high up there.
TC: WHAT IS YOUR MOST EMBARRASSING MOMENT AT CC THUS FAR?
RF: I think the most embarrassing thing that comes to mind right now was: There was a volleyball game last block that I went to. And I was very excited to go to the volleyball game, so I took it very seriously and really prepared for the game beforehand. But because of the excessive preparation that I had done for the game beforehand, I made some funny decisions later on in the night — nothing that I think was crazy but definitely was a little wild.
TC: WHAT DO DESUS AND MERO MEAN TO YOU?
RF: Desus and Mero mean a lot to me. It’s cool to see people directly from my community being that successful. And they’re just hilarious; they’re so funny. And seeing how fast they blew up and the sort of trajectory they’ve taken from being on YouTube shows to then having a podcasts, to then having their own show on ViceLand, and now being on Showtime, like, they just keep progressing. And that’s really cool to see. And, specifically with Mero, since he’s Dominican and I’m also Dominican, it’s really cool to see someone from that community thriving in the entertainment business — or just, like, in general in a way that isn’t baseball because I feel like a lot of the times when you think of, like, successful Dominicans, or when anyone is talking about successful Dominicans, it’s MLB players. And that’s what we get the most shine for, which, like, I understand; we’re really good at baseball. But we’re great at a lot of other things. So it’s cool to see Mero doing his thing.
TC: IF YOU COULD MAKE ONE RULE FOR THE DAY AND EVERYONE HAD TO FOLLOW IT, WHAT WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
RF: Probably, like, not being able to use your phones or, like, laptops or any of that kind of stuff, just ‘cause I feel like it leads to more, like, actual connection and a lot of the reasons why so many of us are so stressed out all the time I feel like, comes from our devices. And like, when I was at HMI we weren’t allowed to use our phones, they took them away and put them in a box until we left. And we could use our laptops but it was only really for, like, work and we barely had Wi-Fi half the time anyways. And I feel like that led to us being super super super close. And so I think that would be really cool, because I feel like a lot of the times when I’m on campus, like, if I’m walking from one place to another place I’m looking at my phone or I’m, like, using my phone for something. And it would be cool to just actually talk to people.
TC: IS IT IMPOSSIBLE TO BE A NEW YORK KNICKS FAN THESE DAYS?
RF : I mean, I have a love hate relationship with the Knicks. Love mainly just because I’m from New York and, like, growing up I watched them and all that kind of stuff. But they haven’t been good since I really have been watching them and so it is kind of hard to be a Knicks fan — especially when you look at the draft choices they make and the fact that they just traded away Porzingus for, like, trash. And the owners… Like, I like the team. The team is really good, but with the current ownership, we’re not gonna get any better. And so the owner just needs to, like, disappear.