The event, hosted by the UCF Campus Activities Board in the Pegasus Ballroom, featured a questionnaire session in which Steven Clenney, a graduate assistant for the Office of Student Involvement, interviewed Hansen about his life in front of and behind the television cameras.

Judy Scott, whose son attends UCF, drove two hours from Stuart, Fla., just to get the chance to see the captain.

“I got a call from my son who knows I’m a big fan,” Scott said. “You don’t get this kind of thing where I live.”

Hansen shared with audience members his experience as the captain of the Northwestern and how the reality show has changed his life.

As a fourth generation Norwegian fisherman, Hansen said he didn’t have much of a choice denying his future in the fishing industry.

“When my dad came over from Norway, you either fished or you farmed, that was it,” Hansen said. “You didn’t go to college. They really didn’t have a college, so when I grew up it was kind of embedded into our brains.”

While other kids were doing homework in elementary school, Hansen said he was drawing pictures of boats.

“That’s all I’ve ever wanted to do,” he said. “I don’t think a nine-to-five would suit me; I would probably be fired the first day.”

After graduating high school, Hansen began fishing year-round on the Northwestern and eventually became the full-time captain at the age of 24. He prides himself on not having any major accidents or deaths onboard, which he credits to his crew’s work ethic.

“I like the way he thinks and orders his crew to do things,” Gabriel Sanchez, a junior digital media major, said. “It’s interesting to see what he has to say.”

But that’s not to say the Northwestern and its crew haven’t seen their fair share of drama. That’s one of the aspects that keep viewers hooked.

“I like seeing the personalities of the captain and the crew,” Scott said. “The danger of it all, the action, the cold and the drama. There’s always some kind of drama.”

Hansen doesn’t see it as drama but rather the everyday life on the boat, he said.

“It gets so monotonous that pretty soon you just start to pick on each other, it just happens. An argument will come out of nowhere,” Hansen said. “Well think about it, you’re in confined quarters, you got a big boat with a big deck with very small living quarters, so you get sick of each other after a while.”

Hansen doesn’t expect to add any new crew members, even though he said he receives personal requests every day. So far, he’s received resumes from doctors, lawyers and even bodybuilders, but he believes becoming a fisherman is more of a lifestyle change rather than a way to prove oneself.

Hansen said he finds the attention he gets from the show both good and bad and said he doesn’t consider himself a celebrity but, rather, “a very popular fisherman.”

“People in the street will come up or say, ‘Oh, sign this autograph for me, you’re a celebrity,’ which makes me want to just jam it down their throat. Don’t use that word, that’s not us,” Hansen said.

At the end of the interview, Hansen answered audience questions, took pictures with fans and signed autographs.

Source: Central Florida Future, by Jennifer Dorval, Sunday, October 4, 2009; photo credit, Jacqueline Persandi