I have a new friend crush. It’s a big one. And it’s on this week’s “One in 2000,” Chip Hermann ’14.
After some extensive Facebook stalking, I couldn’t wait to learn about this sophomore from suburban Ohio. So on a Saturday afternoon, we sat down to chat about everything from his unusual nickname, his pole-vaulting high school past and his love of last year’s “snow-pocalypse.”
Ok, we’re live! So Chip, let’s talk about the nickname.
Well, my parents named me Charles after my grandfather. We have a great-grandfather whose name was also Charles, but his nickname was Chick, and that was in the roaring ’20s where Chick was the fun cool guy, and they wanted to name me after him. But Chick doesn’t quite fly in modern times, so they named me Chip, which was close enough.
That is so cool! I was thinking like, are they just really into chip and dip? Is your brother named dip?
Chip and Dale, actually. No, just kidding. That would be mean.
Seriously. So tell me about Shaker Heights, Ohio.
It’s a small suburbia about 10 minutes outside of Cleveland, so it’s nice that you get to be near the city and close to all the things about the city that are pretty fun. There [are] parks, and there’s Horseshoe Lake that has a really cool bike path to go around. It’s fun, I really love it. It’s just suburban enough that it’s not like a big city.
Do you guys get a lot of snow?
Yep! We’re near the lake, and during the winter the lake isn’t frozen so it is still warm while the ground is cold. The warm moisture will evaporate and go into the atmosphere, go over the cold land and then drop like snow. So we tend to get a lot of lake effect snow. It’s not uncommon to have a foot overnight and then get to school somehow. They’re like, “Oh, you can handle it.”
Are you a certified snow driver then?
I know how to drive in snow. When I was learning to drive, my parents took me to an empty parking lot that hadn’t been plowed yet, and they said, “Ok, floor it and then hit the brakes.” And so we did donuts in the parking lot when it was really snowy just to get used to skidding. So I’m pretty confident with driving in the snow.
So what was your scariest or craziest snow driving moment?
Well, the scariest moment for me driving in the snow was that I was going down this big hill with a stoplight at the bottom, and the light suddenly turned red. [I was] going down the hill and [I] hit the brakes – and the car [wasn’t] stopping, it was just skidding – so what I did was I just leaned on the horn to let everyone know that I couldn’t stop in time, and I went straight through the red light. And there were two cars that were starting to go but then stopped, and I just went straight through the intersection.
That’s terrifying! I’m glad you’re still alive!
I know. But that’s what I was taught to do, just lean on the horn and hope, because that’s all you can do.
So, let’s talk about your childhood! What are some crazy Chip-as-a-child moments?
Well, my family is pretty crazy, but I think most people can say that about their families. I have an older sister who is three years older than me, and who is at home working now. Her name is Khaki.
Wait, her name is actually Khaki?
Well, her name is Katherine, but her nickname is Khaki because in preschool there were four different Katherines in her class, and so they all had to have different nicknames.
That’s so cool.
Yep, my mom actually thinks Katherine and I have our own secret language. We talk in movie references most of the time, so we’ll just be quoting movies with something like “Bueller … Bueller … ,” and then it’ll be like, “P. Sherman, 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney.” We’ll just be constantly going back and forth about movie quotes, and our parents are looking at us like, “I don’t know what’s going on here…”
That’s hilarious! So are you spending time at home this summer?
I’m actually doing a program this summer called Associated Colleges in China, which is an eight-week intensive language program where you aren’t allowed to speak English. It’s located right in Beijing.
So you’re a Chinese and Physics double major. That’s pretty different! How do you see yourself using these majors in the future?
Well, I’d like to eventually work in renewable energy, either designing high-efficiency solar panels or working on wind turbines. The Chinese comes in handy with this because right now China is scrambling to get more energy, and the [country is] currently working on tons of renewable resource projects. I’ve always had an interest in both physics and Chinese, but pairing them in a job at a company that works in energy and deals with China would be amazing.
What is your favorite thing about Williams?
I freaking love Mountain Day. I always do the 10-mile hike.
Oooh, I see. You’re that kid.
I am that kid! You know, wake up at 7 a.m. ready to go 10 miles, go over Mount Williams, Mount Prospect, get up to Greylock. It’s pretty cool.
So how many people actually do that hike?
There’s like 15 people every year, probably? I did a lot more [Williams Outing Club] things last year. I took two hiking classes, so I know some of the local mountains really well. I have less time to do hikes this year, which is unfortunate, but I try to do the sunrise hike as often as I can. It’s kind of fun to hike up a mountain at 6 a.m. and eat donuts at the top.
Ok, let’s switch gears. We didn’t talk a lot about your high school. What kinds of extracurriculars did you do there?
I did JV soccer for four years and varsity track. I did the 200- and 400-meter, and I also did pole vaulting…
You did pole vaulting? No way!
I did! I was not extremely good at pole vaulting, but I got to like 11 feet one time. That’s my record.
That’s amazing. How did you get into pole vaulting?
Our coach desperately needed pole vaulters because we only had like one or two, and so we were getting crushed at meets because we just didn’t have anybody. So one day they were like, “Here [passing imaginary pole], you’re doing pole vaulting.” And I was like, “Ok!”
That sounds terrifying.
It’s terrifyingly awesome. There was only one time that I got a little injured. I was running with the pole up a little bit and it shot me backwards, so I landed a little bit on the side in the grass and just rolled. My coach was like, “Oh my god!” I was like, “I’m good!” A couple scrapes, no big.
So, are you liking this “no snow” winter? Now that I know you get dumped on in Ohio, I’m curious.
I don’t like this “no snow” thing! It’s really bothering me. I’ve liked that it’s been snowing recently, and I hope that the snow continues. I know that it’s not a popular opinion to hope for this, but I do! This winter has been weird. I liked last winter a lot because of the snow. Don’t you like blizzards? They’re so fun!
No, I do not! I truly thought it was the apocalypse. I would wake up every morning and want to cry!
I love waking up to freshly fallen snow. It’s like the best thing ever.