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Charles Waybright: Conquering obstacles

Charles Waybright was born and raised in Lompoc. He has two sisters, one who is a year younger and one who is 19 years younger. His parents were biker hippies who had the kids call them by their first names.
“I was very shy growing up,” Waybright said. “I kept to myself and only had one or two friends at any given time.”
Early in his education, he spent a lot of time in the offices of school therapists who were trying to figure out what was wrong with him. After a few years of assessment, they decided Waybright was mentally handicapped.
“I was put into special education classes and I was told that I should not aspire to anything more in life than simple manual labor,” he recalled. “Not knowing any better, I accepted their diagnosis. However, over time, I began to demonstrate average and above average skills and abilities. A pivotal point was a fourth grade drawing assignment in which I outperformed my peers.”
Although he feels a little bitter from these early educational experiences, Waybright learned not to allow others to define him.
After high school, he joined the Air Force and then went on to study electrical engineering at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, a leading university for engineering. He is currently working in the aerospace industry.

Q: Describe a special memory you have in the High Desert.
A: I moved to the High Desert eight years ago and the most special memory I have, though it is a bit cliché, was the day I met my wife. We were invited to Christmas dinner by mutual friends.

Q: What do you do in your free time?
A: I spend a lot of time on the computer designing and managing websites and social media for nonprofits.

Q: Tell us one thing that most people don’t know about you.
A: I can ride a 6-foot unicycle. When I was younger, I could ride it with someone on my shoulders.

Q: If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
A: I realize there is a lot of suffering in the world, but struggle is part of life and learning. I think that collectively we need to figure things out. I do not know if any one individual has the answer as to what needs to be done to fix the world.

Q: If you could change one thing about the High Desert, what would it be?
A: I think Barstow should look internally for the answers to its problems. Barstow tends to look outward to investors from other states; companies from Los Angeles; and individuals from the Inland Empire and Victor Valley for answers. Instead, we could be tapping into the rich pool of local talent for solutions. Also, please stop worrying so much about what the people driving through Barstow want, and focus more on making it a desirable community in which to live.

Q: Who is someone who had a big influence on your life?
A: My mother. The greatest lessons I learned from her were not what she told me, but how she lived her life.

Q: What talent do you most wish you had?
A: Charisma. I tend to be socially awkward, and I always feel I have to work extra hard to prove myself.

Q: What is your favorite quotation?
A: “Before you can understand, you must be aware.” This is a quote from my college history teacher. It seems rather simple at first, but I found it to be profound.

Q: What words of advice do you have for the next generation?
A: Keep things in perspective. Whatever problem you are struggling with, someone else has already dealt with that.

Q: Tell us about the charities or causes that are close to your heart and why.
A: Any charities that deal with child abuse and abuse towards women. Unfortunately, that was the environment I grew up in. I always have that sense that I should have done something to protect and help my mother and sister. It is always a driving factor when I try to help others. I feel if I can help someone or make a positive change, that will make up for failing them.

Q: What is something you are particularly proud of?
A: Being accepted into Cal Poly.

Q: What’s your favorite movie and why?
A: “It’s a Wonderful Life.” In the midst of his hopeless despair, George Bailey, the lead character, had the opportunity to reflect on his life. He realized he had made a positive impact.

Q: Tell us about your favorite thing about living in the High Desert?
A: Hiking.

Q: What is the best thing about your job?
A: Getting to work on practical applications of science that I studied in college. It is a dream job for me. Every so often I need to remind myself of that.

Q: Of all the places you’ve been, what’s your favorite and why?
A: Arlington National Cemetery, the Vietnam Memorial and the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., and Arlington, Va. Having been a service member, it was important for me to pay respect to those who served before me and lost their lives.

Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
A: China or Egypt. There is so much history there.

Q: Tell us about one thing you want to accomplish in life.
A: I would like to be able to belly crawl threw a lava tube when I am 80.

Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
A: I don’t think about that any more. I spent most of my life living for tomorrow. Now I try to focus on living for today.

Q: What’s your favorite guilty pleasure?
A: Haagen-Dazs Vanilla Bean ice cream.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to say?
A: I’ve said too much already.

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