Behind the beard

Michelle Ferrand

Behind his tri-color beard, Joch Anderson may not look like he belongs on a college campus but the Geology major is set to graduate next year. Photo by Christine Capozziello

Joch Anderson, a 39-year old FAU student, usually hangs out in the Student Union between classes or just strolls around campus like any other student would. Though his actions aren’t particularly out of the ordinary, his long beard, sun hat and unusual appearance gives students the opposite impression.

“I’ve seen him and noticed him, but with the clothes he wears [and] the beard, maybe he’s kind of just, like, a hippie guy,” said Alex Beck, a junior English major.

Others were unsure if he was even a student. Natalia Alexsinko, a junior exercise science and health major, said, “After I saw him a couple times, I [thought] he was a little like a straggler on campus.”

They aren’t the only ones who believe that Anderson isn’t the average FAU student.

“People have called the police because I look like I don’t belong,” he said, “and the cops just tell them it’s  OK and that I’m supposed to be here.”

Anderson attended a few schools, such as California State Polytechnic University and Prairie State College in Illinois, before coming to FAU. He chose FAU because most of the credits he earned at other colleges would transfer, while not as many would transfer to other schools.

Anderson is currently a commuter student from Fort Lauderdale, and entered FAU as a transfer student from Broward College, with senior standing. He expects to graduate in the fall of 2012 with a degree in geology. Despite his age, he plans to persure a master’s in divinity.

Anderson, who didn’t become a Christian until  he moved to Florida at age 19, regularly attends a Presbyterian church on Sundays, and ultimately wants to be a preacher.

“I’ll preach wherever the Lord wills,” he said. “There’s a lot of bad doctrine in the church at large. God wants the truth to be shared.”

Aside from being a preacher, Anderson wants to try his hand at inventing. Thus far, he has invented small items, such as a nose guard to protect him from the sun, but he doesn’t want to stop there. He also wants to “design safer military equipment to keep the troops safe.”

In the past, Anderson has held a few lifeguard jobs in the local area, which was initially the reason he chose to grow a full beard.

“I keep my beard [long] because when I was lifeguarding, the sun would bother me a lot,” he said. “The beard really protects me against the sun, but I know that some people might think I’m a ‘stoner’ or that it’s dirty to have a beard like mine, but that’s not the case.”

Anderson isn’t concerned that the way he dresses will prevent him from obtaining jobs in the future. He says that his clothes are environmentally comfortable, and he doesn’t think someone’s appearance should necessarily affect the way people perceive them.

“God judges the heart,” he said. “Look at people’s actions and listen to their words, for they proceed from the heart.”