Dillon Janocha (Class of 2016)

  1. Every person has a creative side, and it can be expressed in many ways: problem solving, original and innovative thinking, and artistically, to name a few. Describe how you express your creative side.

Working at an Office Depot, there is not a lot of room to express yourself creatively. Standing behind a counter for hours, you end up feeling a lot like the narrator in John Updike’s “A&P”–like the minutes ticking by are hours and how you make it to the end of your shift each night without combusting is a miracle. After the mundaneness of retail settled in, I took to learning about my customers to pass the time. Under the Register 1 counter is my Audrey Hepburn notebook (purchased from Office Depot of course) where I write about all the characters that walk in my store. A writer needs subjects and working behind that suffocating space called Register 1 is the perfect source. I have seen and met people of all backgrounds, and it is surprising to learn how much some people open up over cash register conversations. Some customers are antagonists and storm away, cursing when their cards are declined and others are heroes, empathizing with the brutality of customer service. The customers that affect me most however, are the ones that become tragic characters. Those who feel low enough to share their trials in love or grief or depression with an Office Depot associate have a depth to them that I cannot resist thinking, let alone writing about. Customers are poems waiting to be put on paper and their conversations are dialogue in a short story. Their insights are the seeds of a plot and though it may sound silly that an Office Depot in Garden Grove is an inspiration for writing, it truly is. Today that same Audrey Hepburn notebook is filled with minute details about the lives of my customers. About Sonny who was betrayed after years of service and Donna who dressed up her husband as an elderly woman on their last Halloween together. They are the ones who drive me to be an artist. In short, my creative side is translating what I see under the fluorescent lighting of an office retail store into a whole other world painted with my rushed handwriting.


  1. What would you say is your greatest talent or skill? How have you developed and demonstrated that talent over time?

Although my dream of becoming a Navy SEAL never came to fruition, it’s impact has shaped the last five years of my life. That dream led me to my school’s pool deck, where my scrawny freshman self enlisted in the water polo team with hopes of developing the leadership and aquatic skills SEALS are known for. And although my dream of being a SEAL dashed, the qualities I sought to develop continued to motivate me. I rose through the ranks, demonstrating discipline, respect, and silent leadership. At 15 years old I woke up at 4:45 every morning to swim and tread for hours, the chlorine clouding the numbers in algebra class. In games, I respected my opponents, studying their techniques and learning from my losses. At 16 I became the assistant JV water polo coach. I stayed after school every day for hours to pass on what I knew to others as eager as me to learn. They looked up to me like I looked up to my own coach. Not because of my title, but because they wanted to emulate the path of finesse and passion I created. At 17, I was captain of my team, but I never had to say a word. I continued to dedicate myself every morning and afternoon, work to exhaustion every practice, excel academically, and by that time, my team saw what they wanted to do. My greatest skill stems from a natural aquatic talent, but lies in my ability to motivate others. To inspire my teammates to victory, but moreover to share the comfort and fun I feel when playing with them. I show others that you only get as much as you put in, and that is why I personally believe I achieve success in the water. What I am most proud of though, is when my coach told me that those in the aquatic program try to emulate me, and if that’s true, then I could not be more proud because all I see are a bunch of kids laughing, smiling, and soaking in every delicious moment that is life.