Photo Credits: CAITLYN SAMPLEY / AGGIE FILE
Prepare to be shocked
Alan Markham, clad in ill-fitting blue jeans and helmet hair, opens up the door for me to his West Village apartment. It is utilitarian, even Spartan, in decoration — a UC Davis campus map sits lonely on a coffee table, several alphabet magnets spell out nothing in particular and the freezer has only pizza bagels and ice cubes. He gestures distractedly for me to sit down at the kitchen table across from him, clearly preoccupied by the buzz of thoughts inside his brain.
I ask him how he feels in order to break the ensuing silence, and he shrugs, not smiling. “It’s weird,” he responds.
Alan Markham has just been crowned the Smartest Guy at UC Davis, an honor bestowed upon him via survey poll answered by a few of his closest friends and family. “It’s something I have known for a while.”
The third-year student tells me that he began to realize his genius when taking the BIS 2 series, math 21 and chem 2 at the same time. The cementing of his theory occurred when he received As in all of them, which, he tells me, only the Smartest Guy at UC Davis could do.
“You know, everyone around me was failing. I saw these obscenely low grades and said to myself that there had to be something different about me. I grinded. I got to work in a lab my freshman year, and that only comes if you grind.”
“The brain is a muscle, you know, you have to work it,” he tells me as if this is a new fact.
We convene back in the living room where I ask him how his perception of the entire student body has changed since his crowning. He pauses, “I don’t judge people. I really don’t. I know no one here is as smart as me and won’t accomplish anything with their lives. That’s fine. For me, though, I choose to work. I think knowing that I am inherently different than others allows me to be more accepting of plebeians like you.”
I thanked him for his generously donated time and tell him there is truly no one else in the City of Davis — hell, the entirety of Yolo County, possibly the state of California, probably the world — like him.
He waves his hand, altruistically dismissing my entire worldview as myopic. “We have some of the greats here. I may be gold, but trust me, I know some silver and some bronze.”
His comment allowed my mind to travel in mysterious directions. Perhaps the Smartest Guy at UC Davis is an amorphous being. Perhaps he is the philosophy major with one hoop earring, who strokes his chin and pronounces differance like a sneeze. Perhaps he is the rise-and-grind economics major in khakis with a Crest White Strip smile. Perhaps, even, it is you.
Written by: Kelsey Stewart — email@example.com