UU Interview: Eddie Sackinger

Cuddle Puddles, Cluster Cons and Embedded Systems

Eddy Sackinger says that he has a “vivid memory” of leading a meeting of YIC and YAC from a “cuddle puddle” and “I very much miss it.”

“Oh,” I said, feeling totally clueless, until he explained that a “cuddle puddle” was a bunch of kids lying on the floor with their heads on each other’s stomachs, YAC was the Youth Adult Council, YIC was the Youth Involvement Committee, and both were at the Unitarian Fellowship in Corvallis, where Eddy, as a teenager, truly became a Unitarian, and where he led these groups, maybe not always from a cuddle puddle. Listening to this, I was beginning to feel acrynymed-out, but in those days Eddy also belonged to YRUU, Youth Religious Unitarian Universalists, which enabled him to go on trips to places like state parks and participate in “Cluster Cons,” which I think he said were three-day overnights.

Who knew that interviewing Eddy would be so challenging. I knew that, as one of the oldsters at our Klamath Falls fellowship I was always happy to see Eddy, first of all for his warm and gracious self, but then too because, since he’s all of 24, having him around, and knowing that he has been a Unitarian for a long time, made me feel that nobody could accuse our fellowship of not having age diversity. “Yes, I am the token young adult” he said when I told him about those feelings, but “that’s begun to change over the last few months. Now we’ve got Courtney and Brittany.”

Eddy started out in Tualatin, a suburb of Portland, and moved to Corvallis at age eight when his dad, who is a mechanical engineer, got a job there. He didn’t arrive in Klamath Falls until 2013, to attend OIT and major in “embedded systems” something which, for me, also required an explanation. Embedded systems, I learned, are computers in other devices, such as cellphones, digital cameras, and cars, for instance. Eddy anticipates graduating from OIT in 2020 and wants to write software for companies which make the hardware for those devices.

His academic career, however, hasn’t been all smooth-going. He dropped out of OIT for a while in 2015, feeling that he just wasn’t prepared for the challenge of some of the courses he was required to take, in particular calculus. He got a job for a while with Klamath Technology Services and then, “wanting to explore the world” enrolled in an Americorps program called City Year, where he was placed at San Houston High School in San Antonio, Texas, as a tutor in a math class. Talking about that experience his face lights up and “It was wonderful” he says. There was a great deal of ethnic and racial diversity at the school and “For the first time in my life I was interacting with people truly different than me. I realized how much I valued diversity, and so that experience involved values clarification in many ways.” Also, he says, “The food in Texas is amazing, particularly breakfast tacos.”

Back in the Northwest Eddy spent a year in Portland, going to Portland Community College and working at Best Buy. Then a vacancy at the house which his parents own in Klamath Falls opened up and Eddy decided to tackle OIT again. Things went better than had the first time around, in part, says Eddy, because “In San Antonio I had to be a role model, advocating for others, and that taught me how to advocate for myself.” So, when things got rough again in math classes and other classes, Eddy was no longer afraid to ask questions and work out the issues.

“Also” he says “I came back because I was missing the fellowship here. It’s a welcoming community, a place where I feel morally grounded and personally valued, and you guys make me feel older than my age suggests that I am.”

“At the end of the day life is about people.”

–Carol Imani, February 26, 2019