One in 2000: John Wawrose ’14

When John Wawrose ’14 – an unfamiliar name to me – was selected to be this week’s “One in 2000,” I tried to deduce what it was that makes this guy so great, so like any good student would do, I looked him up on WSO. I discovered that he’s actually been in my Chinese class all semester (in classic Chinese class fashion, I had just never learned his English name). After that twist, I was stoked to chat – in English – with the dude of laid-back demeanor and massive Pittsburgh pride. 

Did you just come from McDonald’s?

Yeah, I was just volunteering at the Clark! The lacrosse team is volunteering over there. But I was dying, really struggling to get through, so I figured McDonald’s would be a great pick-me-up.

How’s lacrosse been?

It’s been really good. It’s been an interesting perspective. I mean I’ve been a benchwarmer or will be a benchwarmer for all four years on the team. It’s definitely been a humbling experience riding the pine, but it’s fun and it’s a great group of guys.

So you’re a chemistry and Chinese major. Why those two? Seems brutal.

Mostly because I’m a masochist? That’s a really good question. I’m doing the pre-med track, and I just took a lot of chem and was like, “Oh, well, I’ll just finish out the major,” which seemed casual. And I really like Chinese and figured that going abroad would take care of a lot of that.

And you were in Beijing last fall?

Yeah, I loved it. I’m trying to go back after I graduate. I don’t quite know what I’m doing yet, but I’m hoping that I can show up and someone will just hand me a job.

[Laughs] Do you see yourself pursuing a medical practice over there?

Hopefully, yeah. If I had to do my whole life plan as of right now it would be go to China and do something – I don’t know what – but something away from medicine and science, then come back and apply to med school. Things always change, but yeah, I’m getting pretty amped on the whole China thing right now.

It’s an interesting place – you feel very free, in a way, when you’re there. People are less uptight about things. 

Yeah, a lot more free on the actual citizen level. It was kind of like half like living in a city and half like camping when you’re there. Everything’s a lot more casual, and if the buses don’t work or you don’t have Internet for a month or something, it is what it is. You just have to go with it. It kind of breaks up the monotony of the day when the bus explodes.

Every day there’s an “only in China” moment, yeah?

Every day there’s something weird, something that makes you go, “Hmm, that’s new.”

Speaking of things out of the ordinary, I’ve heard stories about a poop-related incident of pretty epic proportions at your house on Latham. Care to elaborate?

So a couple weeks ago, I guess this was a Monday, my housemate came back to her room and in her bathroom, someone had sh** in an already-clogged toilet. It was really just one of the most savage dumps I’ve seen in my life. It was unreal. And so immediately, we tried to figure out who was responsible for it, but nobody in the house took the blame. We were all stressed out about job applications and things, but we decided to just drop everything and then spent the next few hours trying to figure out whom it was. It spiraled into a week of writing down all possible suspects, possible motives and reasons why or why not. We thought we had enough evidence on one of our housemates, John Sanderson [’14] to convict him of the heinous crimes, so we went about trying to figure out how to press charges, if you will. We e-mailed the president of the Legal Society and said we wanted to have a mock trial, and we appointed ourselves as lawyers and made a jury and invited a bunch of people over and made it into a whole ginormous ordeal. But in the end, we apparently didn’t have enough evidence, and the jury found him innocent.


So now we think it might have been our landlord. We’re trying to figure out how to subpoena him and call him in.

[Laughs] So after all that time, no justice was served. If you finally figure it out, we might have to run an article about the extra-legal poop court.

It was seriously a miscarriage of justice that nobody was convicted of this.

Any other adventures you are planning to have this year?

Well, I need to explore the running around here. Me, my housemate and my best friend from home are supposed to do a marathon in three weeks.

Three weeks?

Yeah, and I’ve been running very sporadically. I’ll run like three miles on one day and be like, “Aw yeah, that was really good, did a lot of those, good training.” It’ll be good; hopefully I don’t come away with a permanent injury or something.

I remember a few weeks ago you gave a great presentation in Chinese about Pittsburgh sports; I’ve met a few people from Pitt over the years, and they all seem to have more hometown pride than most people from, say, Chicago, where I’m from.

Pittsburghers have an unreal sense of pride. Especially for being a smaller city… If you talk bad about Pittsburgh to a Pittsburgher, they’ll get real heated about it. I think it’s because there’s a real Pittsburgh culture because you get these generations of people who are Pittsburgh born-and-raised, who spend all their time in Pittsburgh. It just breeds a really intense pride for the area. It’s a great city though.

Do you see yourself going back?

Maybe at some point? It’s a really nice place to raise a family, though that seems terrifyingly far off to be thinking about. [Laughs.] And I think I’d like to be in a bigger city and do some other things first.

Considering Beijing is a terrible place to raise kids –

[Laughs.] I was discussing with someone the other day that I would love to raise a kid in Beijing. But marry another American and just never speak English to my kid, only raise him speaking Chinese and then he’d have perfect Chinese but no English. Then when he’s 16, move him back to America and nobody will understand why he has a thick Chinese accent and can’t speak English.

[Laughs] I can’t tell if that’s just mean or a really interesting social experiment.

I guess that’s a sign that I’m not really ready to raise a family.

So you have one semester left, potentially one semester left in America: Do you have any big plans?

Robert Yang/Executive Editor.
Robert Yang/Executive Editor.

Not particularly, this fall’s been great for just enjoying New England fall, especially since I was abroad last year and missed it, so I’ve really been in awe of how beautiful it is here again. So no major plans, just taking everything in as a last little victory lap. It’s like being a freshman again – freshman year, there’s so much excitement about every little thing, but now since it’s the last time I’ll be doing these things, there’s just a lot of excitement.

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