Humans of St. Thomas introduces us to some of the incredible members of the St. Thomas community. Read about more of our fellow Tommies here.
When I met up with Dylan Barrett at Scooter’s on a recent sunny afternoon, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had watched his Magic Monday series on Instagram, where he posts a magic trick once a week, so I thought maybe he’d pull out a deck of cards and make them disappear? Spoiler alert: Nothing disappeared. Instead, what transpired was a thoughtful conversation with an unassuming junior who is fully embracing his St. Thomas experience and his love of performance.
The College of Arts and Sciences communication and journalism major is active in Student Affairs as a communications and campus engagement intern. He’s also in his second year as a resident adviser and orientation leader. When he’s not busy being a student, Barrett loves to entertain folks whether it’s as part of the pep band he started as a first-year student or by making folks smile with his fun, head-scratching magic tricks he’s performed at events throughout the Twin Cities.
The Woodbury native has been coming to campus with his dad, Mike Barrett, associate director of investigations for public safety, since he was a young child. His mother is currently taking graduate courses here and his younger sister will soon be a Tommie, too. We chatted about everything from starting a pep band to the soundtrack of his life.
You started a pep band your first year at St. Thomas. What inspired you to do that?
I play clarinet and saxophone. I’m not a music major, but I really love music and performing. Marching band was a big thing for me in high school – I loved that community so much. When I was going through the college search process, in the back of my mind I was always thinking about if the school had a pep band/marching band. St. Thomas had everything I wanted except that. I asked, “OK, can we make this happen?” I went the student club route, so we’re a student club. We have 30 to 40 members who regularly show up and we have played at every football game and a couple of basketball games. We’re a Pepsi campus, so I applied to our Beverage Committee Fund and over the past two years have received almost $15,000 for equipment and that type of thing.
Where did your love of magic come from?
It all started when I was on a family vacation in Seattle. We were at Pike Place Market and they have a lot of street performers. We were walking around and this guy with a deck of cards was set up at a table – he was calling for us to watch his show. It was one of the greatest things I’ve ever seen. He was smooth and comfortable with people and that was cooler to me than the magic. I was in sixth or seventh grade.
I didn’t have a “real job” in high school. I just did magic shows. It’s been a fun little side job. Macalester hires me every year to do their reunion weekend and walk around during their picnic hour and do magic. In April, I started doing a series on my Instagram – Magic Monday – where every Monday I post a new magic video. It’s been a fun way for me to share what I’m doing and edit a video every week. I’ve gotten really interested in video over the last year – it keeps me creative.
What is your favorite place on campus?
Murray-Herrick Campus Center. Anderson Student Center is the hub, but I know Murray used to be the old student center and it still is a center in its own way because Admissions is there and the Business Office. To me it’s my home. I love being able to go back at the end of the day to my room. It’s my absolute favorite place on campus.
What’s the best piece of advice you have for first-year students?
The piece of advice that gives the most benefit to students is to say “yes” to going to things and be open to new experiences. One of my favorite memories of my first year is someone knocking on my door and asking if I wanted to join them and others for a walk. I didn’t know anybody, but I said, “Yes, let’s go do this!” We ended up walking down by the Mississippi River and through the woods to a hidden beach where we watched the sunset. I thought, “Wow, I’m in college.” Be open to those new experiences.
If your life had a soundtrack, what would it be?
My dad named me after Bob Dylan. He’s a huge fan. It would probably be a Bob Dylan soundtrack – his music was a big part of my childhood with my dad. I’ve been to six or seven of his concerts with my dad – that was a cool bonding thing for us when I was younger.
I really like jazz. Not a lot of people my age listen to jazz music. I think there are nuances in every genre, but being able to play jazz and explore all its nuances definitely fits into that for me.
Who’s the most influential person in your life?
It’s hard to choose just one person — I’ve had a lot of great influences. My dad for sure has been a big influence in my life. My current boss, Vern Klobassa, VP of student affairs, has been a big part of my life since February. He’s been a great supervisor helping me out with a lot of aspects of my life – personally and professionally.
What’s the last show you binge-watched?
The Amazon Prime show, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” I thought it was really well done. I listen to a lot of comedy. Usually before I go to bed, I’ll pop in Pandora Comedy radio. I love performance of any kind – music, magic, comedy. That’s why I like this show. The trailer described “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” as “a love letter to comedy.” I love that it shows empowering women and that dynamic, along with behind the scenes of 1950s New York.
What is the last thing you ordered online?
I’ve had this little tool on my key chain forever and I lost it, so I got a new one. It’s this little Leatherman tool with a scissors, a tweezers and a couple of screwdrivers. I used it so much last year during move-in for students and in general. It’s a super handy thing to have.
Anything else you want to tell me about yourself?
I wear a hearing aid. It’s something people notice about me. My left ear is smaller than my right ear, it’s how I was born. All my ear bones are smaller in my left ear, so I had surgery in first grade on my ear bones and in fifth grade I got a hearing aid. It’s night and day and now I can’t imagine life without it. I don’t really notice it anymore, but it’s definitely a part of my life.