Student Spotlight: Living the Dream


Photo courtesy of Nate Robinson

Stay-at-home dad by day, paid musician by night: Some would say that senior Nate Robinson is living the dream.

He, however, laughs at them and jokes that in his dreams he imagined making a lot more money.

Still, being a full-time musician and being able to support a wife and two kids on that income is nothing to laugh at. The man has obvious talent and drive and, clear to anyone who has seen him perform live, passion for his music.

This passion started from age 5 when Robinson first learned to play the piano. Since then, he has learned the drums, guitar and a slew of other instruments. He showcases his talents multiple times a week, performing solo at restaurants and private functions, or in one of his two bands.

The Nate Robinson Trio is a small group where Robinson sings, plays guitar, harmonica and drums (with his feet, no less). His other group, Two and a Half White Guys, is a popular local ska/reggae band that has been around since 2000. They have toured nationally and released five albums, one of which, Leather Jackets and Moustache Wax, has been released worldwide.

To top all of that, Robinson takes care of his two children, ages 2 and 6, during the day and when he’s not performing, is finishing up his bachelor’s degree by taking classes at night. Talking to him, it is easy to tell that his top priority is his family.

“I’m able to sustain myself and my family by playing music,” he explains, “but it means I have to take whatever [paying] gig I come across, which doesn’t leave me much free time.”

Robinson has been playing music for longer than some UVU freshmen have been alive. For the most part, he’s been paid for it, too. It may not be his ideal dream right now, but it does seem like he’s on his way.

Name: Nathan Michael Robinson
Year: Senior
Major: History/Political Science

Where are you from?
Pleasant Grove, Utah

What has been your favorite UVU class?
Spanish

How about your favorite UVU professor?
My Spanish professors and [History professor] Kat Brown

What do you do when you’re not a student? Do you have a job or any unusual or interesting hobbies?
I’ve ridden a skateboard as long as I can remember, and I just got back into snowboarding a few years ago. I can’t really afford to go as much as I’d like, but I perform at enough resorts to get a good number of free day passes to allow me to go 15 or 20 times a season.

Why do you get up in the morning, or what motivates you to do the things you do?
I am married with two children; if I don’t get up, they would starve.  I have owned my own home for 10 years or so and it’s getting harder and harder to keep it the longer I stay in school. My wife also works part time. I am a stay-at-home dad during the day and I work and go to school at night.

What current popular phenomenon is something that you just won’t ever understand or like?
American Idol, what the heck is that about? Not cool, especially when they interview people. Of course [the show] means everything to them, it’s a fast track to instant fame, money, all that, [plus] you don’t have to work. You’re just cool all of a sudden; it’s a curse.  [It’s] demonstrating all that is wrong with pop culture these days.

If you won a million dollars tomorrow, what would you do with it?
I would travel more. Coming from this valley I didn’t get to experience this world till I was in my mid 20s. I want my kids to see the differences in the world.

In your opinion, what is the most beautiful place on earth and why?
I don’t think I could narrow it down to one; I’ve been a lot of places, every state in the U.S. except Alaska. [I’ve been to] the South Pacific, all over Europe, Canada, Mexico, China, India, the Caribbean, and I could find something beautiful everywhere I went. Well, India was rough but there was still beauty. You just had to look for it. French Polynesia was nice if you get out of the touristy stuff and experience it for what it is. I could probably live there, no rush, no stress, no day planner, no cell phone; you really get back to a sense of what it is to be alive.  [As soon as I’m out of school] I want to take my kids to some places as well. Russia, Cuba, Japan and South America would be my first choices.

What was the best part of 2010 for you?
I built a fat double-hip skateboard ramp in my backyard. Being a stay-at-home dad really gave me some time (especially in the summer) to take on some projects I wouldn’t be able to do if I were working during the day.

If you could share one piece of advice with your fellow UVU students, what would it be?
Travel as much as you can because one day you won’t be able to.

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