Alex StarrAlex Starr

By Stephanie Villafuerte,
English major, Communication minor
Communication & Marketing Intern

Alex Starr went to college because he was told that’s what people were supposed to do after high school. After finding CSUCI and noticing its similarities to his small hometown of Rocklin, California, Starr applied.

“I have always been drawn to communities of people instead of being another number in the system,” Starr said. “So, the relatively small student population plus beautiful mountains surrounding CSUCI were an instant attractor.”

Starr majored in Environmental Science & Resource Management with a minor in Business Management. He participated in various research projects with ESRM Professor Sean Anderson and now-retired Biology Lecturer Rachel Cartwright, both of whom taught him determination.

“They showed me the power in research and how simple it is to make a difference when you take focused and committed action,” Starr explained.

However, when he walked the graduation stage in 2012, Starr still had no idea what he wanted to do with his life. The only thing he did know was what he wanted to avoid at all costs: a 9-to-5 corporate office job.

So he joined AmeriCorps, a voluntary program which focuses on giving back to the community through public service work. Once that ended, a friend convinced him to join a wildland firefighting team.

“He said we would be doing two public service projects, then another two projects based around training and actually fighting fires in the mountains,” Starr said. “Obviously I had to give it a go.”

Starr travelled all over the West Coast with his team as they extinguished fires in various states such as California, Idaho, and Montana. Every day was different, and he never knew what to expect.

“Some mornings I would wake up and head to the station with a coffee at sunrise, expecting a normal, slow day of cleaning our gear and keeping in shape,” Starr recalled. “Two hours later, we would be flying in a helicopter on the way to a fire that popped up near the border of Mexico.”

After three years, Starr decided to break off from adventuring and settle down in Austin, Texas. He was inspired to start his podcast, “Rewrite the Rules with Alex Starr,” after hearing of a friend’s career change from accountant to firefighter. The show is dedicated to telling the stories of ordinary people with passion-driven lives.

“Speaking with people who are truly living the life they choose, and in somewhat unconventional ways, has given me the freedom to do the same in parts of my own life.”

Fast forward to 2021, Starr has published his first book, “Rewrite the Rules: An Unconventional Way to Build an Intentional Life.” Based on his experiences and podcast interviews over the years, Starr’s book uses his own life lessons to push readers to go beyond the status quo.

“I want the reader to be changed—to have their perception of what is possible in the world, and their life, shifted,” the author said. “Nothing is guaranteed so why not take a chance and structure your life in the way you actually want? I hope readers have the courage to take one step in that direction.”

Starr admits the road to publication was not an easy one. There were days where he felt like quitting. But with his own reservoir of patience and the support of those around him, he was able to finish the book.

“The writing process is the same as going on a long walk or hike. One step at a time does the trick. The minute I started to look too far ahead into the future, my work would start to deteriorate,” Starr explained. “Luckily I had friends who guided me through the process and held me accountable. Their support is the only reason the book is now out into the world.”

And if his list of achievements weren’t enough already, Starr is currently working on his next book about firefighting—a dedication to the camaraderie and youthful time he spent on the field.

He offers motivating advice to anyone interested in taking unconventional steps:

“Start small, go do what excites you now. Not later. Don’t wait to work at that hostel in Mexico or on the farm in Maine. Jobs aren’t going anywhere. You won’t fall behind everyone else, in fact you will probably end up ahead. If there is such a thing. And you will most certainly regret you didn’t explore a bit more of your curiosity when you had the chance. Life is fleeting, so stop waiting.”

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