Carlos Ulises Sermeño is a self-described “pretty chill” guy. Although he has only been working at Sequoyah School for six months, he has been a consistent presence on campus during that time: you may have seen him running the after-school study hall program or had him as a sub for your classes. In the past he’s had jobs privately tutoring high school kids, assisting his college professor in leading classes and field trips, and bartending at what he describes as “perhaps the most sketchy hotel in Hollywood.”
Sermeño was born and raised in South Central Los Angeles; growing up, he lived with his mother and five younger siblings, and they moved around fairly frequently. Sermeño recounts himself as a cocky kid, as well as a diligent student who frequently participated in class. Still studious at John Muir Middle School, Sermeño described himself as not a popular kid, but instead awkward and lonely. At Manual Arts High School, his grades began to slip due to his depressive state of mind. Despite all of this, he remained one of the best students in his classes and began to bloom socially, finding his own group of friends and trying to socialize outside of school.
When asked what excites him about Sequoyah, Sermeño replied, “instead of inundating you with information parsed in a didactic format, it [Sequoyah] tries to model more of what it’s like to actually be a working person in a given field. From what I notice, faculty will give you guys a lot of open-ended assignments, and a lot of freedom on your assignments. They give you lots of opportunities to express your understanding of the material in different ways.” According to Sermeño, when it comes to the learning process at Sequoyah, “instead of being spoon-fed something…it’s more like, What happens if we follow this idea? And then this idea, and this leads to this idea, and that leads to this idea?”
Sermeño’s dream job is one that makes him happy and pays him well so that he wouldn’t have to live next to “obnoxious inconsiderate neighbors who are…loud past a certain point.” If he was not working at Sequoyah, he would either pick up his love for bartending or become a pilot. He is also very passionate about animation, and would like to put out a film or anything that interests him artistically that is “respected and appreciated.”
When it comes to free time, Sermeño will do whatever he feels like, whether that’s playing video games, reading books, spending time in nature, or catching a movie. If he were not working at Sequoyah, he would be trying to bartend. Sermeño is interested in plenty of things, but is most compelled by “anything that helps me understand life and my place in the world more,” and he is always open to learning new things. Some of his specific interests include astronomy, video games and animation, trippy films, highly stylized art, soundtracks to video games and films, and more.
Sermeño’s penchant for video games is bound up with memories of his cousins and childhood. His cousins bought him his very first PlayStation 1 for Christmas when he was 5 years old, and even in middle school and high school he continued to be “all about video games.” In his childhood, Sermeño rarely got more than one game a year; therefore, when he could, he and his brother “would play that game to completion and beyond and we would learn everything about any given game.” In high school, he began to dive deeper into different types and genres of games, such as RPGs (role-playing games) and JRPGs (Japanese role-playing games). Sermeño especially admired the significant amount of work that goes into “the soundtrack of the game and writing, the story of the game, and the artwork is really beautiful. To Sermeño, video games are “the ultimate synthesis of all art forms ever produced.” He also notes that video games were a big part of his intellectual stimulus growing up. Some of his favorite video games are NieR:Automata and Metal Gear Solid series. He describes that “there are ways in which these games portray suffering and juxtapose it with the beauty of life that I really resonate with.”
Sermeño is a nihilistic person, and his greatest fear in life is “winding up unhappy and unfulfilled” and “feeling like I could have and didn’t.” When it comes to thinking about the future, Sermeño would describe himself as an optimistic person. He recalls having “deeply troubling concerns about the future.” But despite his worries, he also focuses on what he fundamentally wants in life and how he can fulfill his creative ambitions.
Sermeño believes that the best things in his life are his positive relationships with his friends and family, as well as the interactions that he has with students and their desire to learn at Sequoyah.
If you ever need someone to converse with deeply about “life, the universe, and everything else,” be sure to pay him a visit during or after school.