This issue’s Notable Alumni Spotlight falls on Jay Asher, the young adult (YA) writer best known for his book-turned-Netflix series, “Thirteen Reasons Why.”
Asher attended Cuesta College in 1993. He was planning to transfer to California Polytechnic University (Cal Poly) originally to become an elementary school teacher.
His plans changed during his senior year at Cal Poly, when he dropped out to pursue writing. A passion that began in Cuesta College’s Children’s Literature Appreciation class, taught by Nancy Hurd.
“Working on my final project was a direct line to my career as an author,” Asher said.
While attending Cuesta College, his favorite class was Art Appreciation. He remembers it sparking his interest in the visual arts, and inspiring his love for history. One of Asher’s memories from that class was walking outside and seeing how many different shades of green were in the trees on campus.
“As an author, I travel a lot, and the first thing I do in a new city is look up their art and history museums and figure out how many I can fit in during my free time,” Asher said.
Asher said that Cuesta College’s campus beauty was one of the things he missed the most. Yet the teachers were the greatest impact. More specifically, their enthusiasm for learning and passion for their subjects.
“Cuesta provided my favorite educational experiences,” Asher said.
Asher returned to be a guest speaker in Hurd’s Children’s Literature Appreciation class for years. He felt that each visit was special to him.
Asher has a message for students attending Cuesta College.
“You never know which teacher is going to open you up to new understandings and new interests, so don’t take any of it for granted,” Asher said.