There were a lot of preconceived notions about Nicholas Astor before he came to Purchase. People assumed his life was hard. They thought he would not want to talk about certain things, that he must not like to joke around. However, anyone who spends more than a few minutes talking to him knows that is incredibly far from the truth.
His story is known nationwide and was reported in publications such as the Daily Mail and the New York Post. The media coverage frenzy began soon after Astor's acceptance to Purchase in July 2018.
Astor has cerebral palsy and requires a 24-hour caregiver to help with day-to-day tasks. A concern arose when the college refused to accommodate Astor’s needs and give his caregiver separate on-campus housing. So, Astor and his family fought back.
After the story went somewhat viral, most of his accommodations were met. Astor is now a sophomore, but the college has certainly has not heard the last from him.
"I came into this school with the mindset that I had to leave my mark," said Astor.
However, despite what felt like too much chaos at the time, Astor now believes it might have made the transition into college a little bit easier for him.
"I'm not recommending media exposure to anybody, but it certainly helped make friends," Astor reflects. "Everybody knew who I was, the school knew who I was, the students knew who I was, and so it made it easy to come into the school and be a sociable guy."
At all times, Astor can be found surrounded by a large group of friends, all laughing at his never-ending jokes.
"This kid is literally my best friend in the entire school; I love this kid so much," says Peter Moriarty, another student at Purchase.
Astor responds to the thoughtful comment with a joke about Moriarty not having many friends because he is a commuter student, and then, of course, the group, including Moriarty, laughs.
Astor took a deep dive into campus life before he even moved in. Now, over a year later Astor is quite possibly one of the busiest students on campus. One of Astor's main commitments is the PSGA Senate. He is the Outback residence senator, and he was also appointed to the diversity committee by the senate, where he is now chair.
He says he enjoys being involved in the student government because it gives him a platform to make an influence.
"I like government, and I like politics, and I have always been attracted to political things," Astor said. "In a public school, you cannot really make an impact on the institution, but because you pay to go to Purchase, it's kind of like you're able to leave your mark."
In an ideal world, however, Astor confesses he would like to be a stand-up comedian. It might be achievable, too. The president of the stand-up comedy club, Vernon Macklin, says that Astor is one of the club’s funnier members.
"His stage presence is really great; he doesn't seem nervous when he's on stage," Macklin said. "In our recent show, I put him last because he's one of the funnier people in the group."
When it comes to comedy, Astor goes by the motto, "If you make fun of yourself first, nobody else can." "It takes power away from them," adds Moriarty.
"I think a great thing about working with Nick is that we talk about very serious topics, like the fire evacuation policy, in settings like the diversity committee, then I see him on stage making jokes about the same topics," Macklin said.
"He's the only person that can make you laugh about burning to death on the floor of Outback," chimes in another friend, Lia Vaccarino.
Astor feels right at home at the stand-up comedy club.
"I like it because for me I need spaces to work on the things that I am interested in and I realized that I need to block my time out for that or else I am just going to drift away,” Astor said. "It's a good place, at least for me, to sit with like-minded people and work on comedy."
Astor's friends agree that he is brilliant, but also incredibly funny. The balance works well for Astor in the same way it works for John Oliver or Trevor Noah.
Ivan Mercado, one of Astor's employed aides, who is also a fellow student, and a close personal friend says that Astor is an astonishingly busy guy.
"He is doing a lot of things; he started the semester ‘going ham’ with PSGA and taking on a whole bunch of activities and trying to get things done at Purchase," said Mercado. "He's very strong and very brave."