Humans of Lee
I met Junior Ant Sandefer on an old beige couch in Medlin Hall, while boys in backpacks passed by wearing quizzical looks. Sandefer sported a backpack with a white-with-gold-stripes tube sock attached. From the sock, he produced silverware and a singing Christmas tie, which he promptly pressed to play music.
When Sandefer enrolled at Lee, he only planned to stay for a semester. He declared a theatre major ' as a joke ' and unpacked his bags in Medlin Hall, where he only expected to stay a few months before ditching for his first-choice university.
This plan was dashed when he found community in the friends he made living in Medlin.
'There's such a sense of community ' and I know Medlin people say that all the time ' but it's true that you get so close with everybody ... it's just something about the environment and something about all living in the same place and interacting with each other.'
Now a junior in the dorm, Sandefer takes freshmen under his wing, teaching them Medlin's 'customs,' which include walking girls home, valuing pineapples, being open with one another and sharing community meals.
'Eating together is the biggest thing you can do to build community and build friendships,' Sandefer said.
Sandefer said he also did not expect find community in the theatre department, after choosing it as a 'dead-end major,' since he would be transferring anyway. When he 'sarcastically' auditioned for shows his first semester, he did not expect to land any roles.
He was cast in 'All My Sons' fall semester freshman year, where he completed something major for the first time in his life.
'After that first show I learned that you can do work, and do work that is quality,' Sandefer said. 'Coming in with no experience, I didn't know if I was going to be able to make it ' [But] people were still supporting me and teaching me, and that really helped me grow and learn. I've never been good at completing things. It was nice to be able to complete something and see the entire process.'
Completion was something new for Sandefer, after dropping out of high school and nearly finishing flight training. He's currently a written test and a practical flight away from his pilot license.
'I usually get through things three-quarters of the way through and then veer off because I don't want to mess it up at the end,' Sandefer said. 'That's one thing being [at Lee] has taught me to get over; it helped me realize you have to finish what you start.'
Sandefer will complete his fourth show at Lee ' 'The Odyssey' ' on Feb. 20. He's also completed many classes (not all of them easy), and acting and crewing several film projects, including acting as lead male in "Better That We Don't," a short-film that will premier at the Lee University film festival.
'College is a long process, so there [are] a lot of things in the long process that just keep going on,' Sandefer said. 'It's been interesting to see things things you want to do evolving into things that actually happen.'
Sandefer plans to complete both his theatre degree at Lee and his pilot license, and pursue both after graduation, despite their seeming contradiction in life trajectory.
'You can do anything you want to as long as you are willing to put in the time and effort,' Sandefer said. 'I love flying and I love acting; so, why should I have to choose? If you have multiple passions you should just go for it.'
Sandefer said he's not the same person he was when he first came to Lee.
'I feel like I've learned how to be more open with people,' Sandefer said. 'I've learned how to express the way I feel better. I've been able to empathize with the way other people feel better. I've been able to learn how to show love for everybody, even people I don't agree with or like ' Of course, coming in I didn't want to stay here. And making that decision to stay was a big step.'