As second semester progresses and summer approaches, many Yale students are currently racing to apply for fellowships to support their efforts to study abroad, take on unpaid internships, or pursue independent research. A large amount of these funds are donated by generous alumni of Yale. 2013 marks the first year that the Brent Hathaway Summer Fellowship is offered. The fellowship, according to its online description, “serves to support Yale undergraduates who wish to devote their summers to just saying fuck it and chilling at home.”
Hathaway (PC ’11) graduated from Yale with a degree in American Studies. He currently resides in his parent’s house in Portland, Oregon. While his former classmates are working on Wall Street, in medical school, or volunteering overseas with various NGOs, Hathaway devotes his days to “pretty much chilling.”
“I was coasting through Yale pretty much nonstop until my senior year came around,” Hathaway describes during our interview, which took place in his residence’s basement. “I noticed that, like, all my friends were focusing on their futures, obsessing over interviews and shit. After seeing this, I spent a long time being all, Fuck, dude, what am I going to do in the real world? This troubled me for a while, until I remembered that my parents were, like, totally rich! I could crash with them, just like before.” He pats the armrests of the leopard-skin loveseat he occupies. Crumbs and Cheeto dust explode into the air. “I don’t need the real world!” He tosses a garlic butter crouton to the floor for a nearby jackrabbit named Miike to nibble on and taps a flaming spliff into a nearby New Orleans Saints mug half-filled with crusty Folger’s. Hathaway rejects your reality and substitutes his own. Bold and brave.
Almost a year after graduating and not changing his lifestyle, sedentary days filled with Playstation, Volcano vaporizers, and allgirlmassage.com subscriptions began to bore Hathaway.
“I slowly realized that all my senior friends who were freaking out about jobs and shit actually cared about jobs because they needed money. I had the luxury of being carefree because of my dad’s vast financial resources, but not all Yalies can actually afford to not give a fuck. Well, I wanted to give someone the opportunity to not give a fuck for an entire summer.” Thus the Brent Hathaway Summer Fellowship was born.
Hathaway relies on a simple system to determine who the single recipient of his sponsored fellowship is: the award goes to whoever would be judged as the worst applicant for a more traditional award. The lucky Yale student this year was sophomore Carl Duncan (TD ’15), whose aspirations of just chilling in his parents’ Scottsdale, Arizona, ranch house all summer will be fully subsidized by Hathaway.
Duncan’s application materials were stunning to Hathaway’s eyes. Judging from his cover letter, Duncan had never perused the UCS style guide before. “He sent in an actual ripped off cover of Juggs that was peeling from the bong water spilled on it,” Hathaway remembers. “There were subtle crusts of white as well. On top he wrote in Sharpie, I just want to chill at home. Fuck Bulldogs Across America, yolo.”
Duncan continued to win Hathaway over in the interview the two of them conducted over Skype. “Yeah, Brent was asking me some questions about my classes and extracurriculars and shit,” Duncan utters off in between bites of a shwarma roll that is continually dripping onto his common room futon. “But I don’t really remember. The whole time I kept flipping back to ChatRoulette. I was talking to this group of black guys who were a Slipknot tribute band.” Duncan’s utter lack of respect or professionalism warmed Hathaway’s heart.
Hathaway thoroughly Facebook-stalked all fellowship applicants. Duncan’s favorite quotes: “I tend to think of myself as a one-man wolf pack.” (Zach Galifianakis) and “I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they’ve always worked for me.” (Hunter S. Thompson), as well as “LET’S GET WEIRD.” (Adam DeVine). His Likes include In-N-Out Burger, smoking weed, Kenny Fucking Powers, The Big Lebowski, and “I’m On a Boat.” His profile picture shows him wearing a denim vest and cowboy hat while clutching the leggings-clad ass of a girl placing her right index finger between her teeth. From all this, Hathaway was sure that Duncan was his man; this guy had very little to contribute to society, and he deserved a platform from which to completely avoid contributing.
When asked for what three things he is most excited about when his all-expenses-paid summer begins, Duncan rattled off, with a distant glint in his eyes, “Tripping as many balls as possible, macking on some high school girls, and making every day like a day in a corn maze.” The unique vision of an undergrad can now be brought to life by the altruism of a Yale grad. The perfect illustration of “giving back.”
In the climactic scene of Magnolia, William H. Macy sobs, “I don’t know where to put things, you know… I really do have love to give. I just don’t know where to put it!” Well, it’s safe to say that Brent Hathaway does not have that problem.