By: Tedi Rountree
October 12, 2015

Garrison Penzo ’18

Number 41, October 13, 2015

Garrison Penzo ’18 makes it perfectly clear: the College Foundation, the Sapelo Foundation, and Zell Miller scholarships are making it possible for him to attend college. The McIntosh County Academy graduate (Class of 2015) and first-generation college student is a Rose Foundation Scholar as well as an Annemarie and Richard J. Reynolds, Jr. Scholar.

Not only does he believe in education, but so do his parents and grandparents. They take turns bringing him to campus in the morning and picking him up at night – sometimes as late as 9 p.m., if he has a late tutoring session – since he doesn’t have wheels of his own and there is no public transportation in the region. “Buying a car will be my first major purchase,” he said, “but I’m also hoping to live on campus next year, since I do everything but sleep here as it is.”

The sophomore is a tutor and supplemental instructor for the ATTIC [Academic Tutoring and Instruction Center] for Chemistry I and II as well as Calculus I and other core math courses. He has accepted an invitation to join the honors cohort and has been invited to join the Golden Key International Honour Society as well. He is also treasurer of the Math and Engineering Club and president of the newly-founded Anime Club.

“The Anime Club is a social network; we hope to develop more interest in anime and Japanese culture on campus,” he explained. “It’s a venue for people to come together and talk about anime, manga [a style of comics created in Japan], culture, and food. One of our first activities will involve collaborating with Jekyllcon, a Comic Con event being held on Jekyll Island in December. I’m a fan of art, even though I’m not the best artist, and anime is a form of contemporary art.”

Penzo described himself as autodidactic in high school. “I’d get fascinated with a topic, like Einstein-Rosen bridges in astronomy or electromagnetism, and I’d just delve into any subject I found interesting and learn more about it at every opportunity.” That curiosity and enjoyment of learning is a factor in his selecting pure mathematics as his major.

“I want to take some computer science classes as well, to learn coding for games. I’m developing a game for my younger brother. When I need a break from calculus, stats, and physics, I code. It’s fun. I felt such a sense of joy – of euphoria, really – when I successfully coded my first character movement back and forth,” he laughed.

While Penzo’s energy and itinerary are reminiscent of the White Rabbit in Alice’s Wonderland, looking wide-eyed at his watch and muttering “I’m late!” as he dashed down the rabbit hole, Penzo’s mental milieu is more likely to be wormholes in space and the 4 p.m. deadline for a calculus assignment as he runs across campus to another tutoring session.