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Ashton Kutcher makes surprise UI appearance

BY HAYLEY BRUCE | APRIL 13, 2011 7:20 AM

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When Ashton Kutcher strolled into a University of Iowa lecture hall on Tuesday, the Hollywood actor was met with a wave of screams, squeals, and clapping.

But once the starstruck commotion subsided, the Iowa-born celebrity spoke to UI students about problem solving, fulfilling their potential, and Newtonian physics.

Campus was abuzz with the news Kutcher was in town Tuesday, with students posting on Facebook and Twitter that they spotted the star or were on the lookout.

But only roughly 145 students had the opportunity to sit in on his lecture to Interdepartmental Studies Coordinator David Gould’s Life Design: Building Your Future class Tuesday afternoon.

“This is really intimidating for me,” Kutcher said. “I’m surrounded by a bunch of people who are a lot smarter than I am.”

Shaking his shaggy brown hair out of his face and draping a gray jacket over a nearby chair, Kutcher started by telling students about his life.



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“It really resonated with me: the notion of sitting in your position, and going to college, and sort of trying to figure out who I wanted to be when I grow up,” the 33-year-old said. “And the answer that I came out with was … Why grow up? What’s the point? I still have no idea what I want to be when I grow up — and if I ever set it in stone … I’d be missing out on so many opportunities.”

Kutcher — who is married to actress Demi Moore — is most famous for his roles in “That 70’s Show,” “Punk’d,” and a slew of Hollywood films, most recently starring in No Strings Attached with Natalie Portman.

During the one-hour class, the Cedar Rapids native described how he dropped out of the UI during his freshman year to pursue a modeling career, which eventually led him to act and produce. Most recently, he has created the Demi and Ashton Foundation against human trafficking, launching the “Real Men Don’t Buy Girls,” campaign on Monday.

Kutcher emphasized he got where he is today by identifying problems that affect a large group of people, helping to solve them, and never giving up.

“Every action has an equal and opposite reaction — that’s a fundamental law of physics,” he said. “If you can find a problem that other people have and you can solve it, then you’re going to find immense amounts of happiness because you’re creating happiness for them.”

UI freshman Kyra Seay, who recently started her own student organization to spread awareness about slave trade in the United States called Students Abolishing Slavery, reached out to Kutcher for ideas of how to spread their message.

“His advice was daunting,” Seay said, referring to the video campaign Kutcher suggested. “It was like light in the dark.”

Gould said he asked Kutcher to speak to his class because he was inspired by his story, and felt his students could take something from it.

“This is a guy who has gotten success and money and fame and all those things that people want,” Gould said. “But what he is quickly figuring out is the things he really cares about and the things that make him happy are really giving back, and I love the idea about the options are always open.”

At one point in his talk, Kutcher listed several occupations — the president of the United States, a rock star, a police officer — and asked students to raise their hands if they believed they could achieve those careers.

“No matter what, don’t put your hands down, because you never know what problem is in your hands to solve,” he said.


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