J. Cushman Laurent '10 has always gone by the middle name his parents picked for him when they decided to name him after Robert Cushman, the man who chartered the Mayflower. This decision makes sense, as Laurent is so old that his parents probably knew Robert Cushman personally.
Laurent is the class of 2010's oldest senior, tipping the calendar at a worldly and sagacious 26 years of age, eight years after he showed up for the first day of freshman orientation in the fall of 2002. Every one of his COOTers (he led two years) has graduated, and he remembers not only when the Pub was located in the basement of Bobs but even when it was in what is now the Fireside Lounge in Pulver Pavilion.
Laurent was on track to get his diploma with the rest of his original class of '06 until his father passed away during his senior year. Consequently, he didn't return to school for his final semester, but instead went back to his hometown of Houston, Texas and got a job working for an oil company.
A few years later, Laurent moved to Washington, DC after taking a job at the Institute of World Politics (IWP). In addition to serving as a full-time employee, Laurent began taking classes to earn Master's degree in strategic intelligence with the IWP. Now he's back for his final semester on the Hill to finish his undergraduate studies so that he can officially become a graduate student.
"Most people were originally freaked out when I showed up in February," Laurent confesses. Students were surprised when they found out his age. "For the first couple days, most every girl I met was like, 'Yeah...I have a boyfriend.' Good for the girls for having their wits about them, but I'm just trying to meet people." In fact, Cushman's only friends who were still here at the beginning of this semester worked at the Pub.
Despite the age discrepancy, Laurent has had little trouble winning the hearts of the younger students he's met on the Hill. All of the friends he has made embrace his age, affectionately referring to him as 'Daddy' or 'Old Man' (the latter nickname originated when Laurent was being introduced to a younger student at a party and the student replied "Oh yeah, you're that old man!").
In his free time, Laurent enjoys fishing and hunting, particularly waterfowl, turkey and deer. Recently, however, he's been focusing on hunting feral pigs that are terrorizing states all along the Mississippi River, especially near the gulf region of Texas where Laurent lives. The Department of Natural Resources says that feral pigs pose "serious ecological, economic, aesthetic, medical and veterinary threats-and they have worn out their welcome."
Back in 2005 when he was completing the first semester of his senior year, Laurent and his friends bought a pig to live in their off campus house. "I named him Honey-Glazed," Laurent says. "He was a great pet, but one day some hooligans from Waterville stole him."
During his first three-and-a-half years at the College, Laurent was an adventurous prankster. As a first-year, he tied a zipline from his AMS window to the woods below the Hillside parking lot. "I don't think they'd let you do that now," he says.
Another time, he got his hands on a rooster and let it go in some girls' off-campus house. Those girls, in turn, put it in another group of students' off-campus house, and the prank kept rolling on in that way until "some girl didn't take it well, and she called Animal Control," he says.
For the Johnson Pond Regatta one year, Laurent rolled up to the lake trailing a motorboat. Not only would they not let him participate in the race, but he says, "We got a ticket for driving around campus with too many people in a towed vehicle."
Laurent fondly recalls his first stint on the Hill and is a fountain of stories, so if students see him around campus or in one of the dining halls he encourages them to "Come say 'hi' and talk to me; I'm usually looking for someone to eat with."
Laurent says his return to the College has given him a new perspective on many aspects of his soon-to-be-alma mater. "I never noticed this before, but I love the fact that freshman girls, even though it's subzero weather, still try to wear skirts and look cute. The older girls have figured it out and dress a little more practically."
What is his advice for current students? "I would say watch out for sketchy Heights dances, but they don't seem to exist anymore," he says. "Really, I'm just soaking it all in. [Some] of my favorite things to do [are] sitting and people-watching. I never realized how crazy this age bracket was," he says. "I really enjoy watching you guys go through this stage of your life, but I'm really glad I'm done with it."