Campus News

Who is C.J. Blair?

March 25, 2022

Yvonne Gay

A man holds on to a wire rope while kneeling in the snow.
C.J. Blair '18, admissions counselor for the College of Arts and Sciences.
Photo credit: Courtesy of Blair

Ever wonder what species of frog is bellowing in your backyard on late summer nights? Invite C.J. Blair ’18 over. He has a talent for identifying several species of frog by their calls. He’s also responsible for ToadsCo, the amphibian-themed ExCo at Oberlin College. Learn more about Blair—including why his favorite childhood memories involve possums, boa constrictors, and fawns—in this installment of Who Am I? 


Full Name: Craig Joaquin Blair Jr. 

Department and location on campus: The College of Arts and Sciences Admissions in the Hotel at Oberlin

Job title: Admissions Counselor

What does your job entail? Visiting high schools, reading applications, and convincing students to come to Oberlin College.

How long have you been at Oberlin? Nine months this time around.

Why did you decide to join the Office of Admissions? I owe so much to Oberlin. It opened so many doors for me and helped me come into my own. This job gives me the opportunity to pay it forward while I figure out where to go next.

What do you enjoy most about your work? Interviewing prospective students. Virtual interviews allow me to speak with students from around the world, and I’m routinely floored by their stories and intelligence. Some of my interviewees have already committed to Oberlin, so I know we’re in good hands.

As a recent graduate, how do you find yourself relating to prospective Obies? I think we’re at oddly similar points in our lives. They’re transitioning into college, and I’m slowly transitioning out of it. I remember feeling both nervous and excited about the future at their age, so I always make sure to tell them how much they have to look forward to.

What questions do you find prospective students ask the most? Prospies often ask what a typical day at Oberlin is like. I respond by describing my Fridays as a student, when I would play frisbee in the afternoon, then eat my bodyweight in co-op pizza, go to five hours of concerts, and swing dance until 1 a.m. 

Are you still connected with the student community on campus? Yes! I’m seeing more live music than ever, and I sometimes sit in on ToadsCo, the amphibian-themed ExCo I started as a student. 

What do you encourage students to do when they arrive on campus as new Obies? Dabble away! Nobody cares what your major is, and now’s not the time to specialize. If a class or club sounds remotely interesting to you, just sign up for it. It’s entirely possible you haven’t discovered your favorite subject or hobby yet. 

Any recent personal achievements you would like to tell us about? I wouldn’t call it an achievement yet, but I’m currently making a documentary short film about a chronic health issue I’ve been dealing with. Hopefully I’ll actually finish it. Email me if you wanna help!

Do you have any hidden talents? I can identify several species of frog by their calls. Boo-beep!

What’s your favorite childhood memory? My parents are veterinarians, and I vividly remember growing up in a house full of outpatients including possums, boa constrictors, ducklings, and fawns. 

Best vacation ever? I was lucky enough to receive a Watson Fellowship after I graduated, which allowed me to spend one year living in Greenland, Wales, Puerto Rico, Nepal, and Japan. I still can’t believe it happened.

Hobbies? Taking long, long walks, watching obscure art house movies, eating adventurously, and trying to play the saxophone/piano/guitar.

Favorite food? Great sushi and great curry. Also narwhal (thank you, Greenland). 

Favorite quote or personal philosophy? “How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live,” by Henry David Thoreau.

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