Jonny Sun, bestselling author and writer for BoJack Horseman, hosted a virtual seminar for Cal Poly Pomona students on Thursday, Sept. 3. The event, organized by Associated Students Inc., was part of this year’s CPP Fest.
Knowing many students are struggling with the virtual transition, ASI hoped students would be able to relate and learn from Sun’s Zoom seminar, “You’re Not Alone in Feeling Lonely.”
“His talk about you’re not alone in feeling lonely is really resonant right now for students at Cal Poly Pomona and just people in general,” said Sharon Rocacorba, associate director of programs at ASI. “When we saw his TED Talk, it really resonated with us as a committee … and they thought it would speak well to the current situation that is going on right now, especially since everyone is virtual.”
Sun’s talk was centered around his personal experiences in feeling like a lonely misfit. Throughout the virtual seminar, he incorporated images from his graphic novel, “Everyone’s a Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn Too,” which perfectly captured key elements of the lecture. He wrote and illustrated the book during a point in his life when he was feeling like “an alien and out of place.”
For attendees like Gavin Smedt, a fourth-year biochemistry student, it was sense of isolation that made Sun’s seminar resonate. “I have been really struggling with feeling out of place … because I just personally don’t fit into a lot of the boxes that society has made, and I have always felt that way,” said Smedt.
Danise Kuang, a third-year English student who attended the event, appreciated how Sun’s seminar discussed mental health.
“I thought it was really good and positive how he talked about his struggles with anxiety and also depression and how relevant that is right now because it’s really hard to connect with people in a way,” Kuang said. “It’s hard that we’re not meeting face-to-face and meeting virtually is very different. I feel like this virtual event was really successful.”
Smedt shared that the seminar effectively reflected how students feel in the COVID-19 era. “I feel that his expertise on the subject along with his personal life experiences to this point have really resonated with me, especially when he talked about being Chinese American and feeling that imposter syndrome,” Smedt said.
Sun is an author, illustrator and was a contributing writer for the sixth and final season of the Netflix original series, BoJack Horseman. He was named as one of TIME Magazine’s 25 most influential people on the internet in 2017 and was included in the Forbes 30 Under 30 Class of 2019.
With the fall semester’s ongoing virtual format, ASI hopes to continue hosting online events like this that promote student interaction and participation.
“We’re hoping that they can find connections with one another, and that’s the main purpose of having these virtual events in general,” Rocacorba said. “We want them to still be able to be connected through an experience, whether it’s through the Zoom chat box or just being there and attending an event.”