Remembering Stephen Hillenburg

Spongebob Squarepants creator and Humboldt State alumnus Stephen Hillenburg has passed away. His love of marine biology and art inspired and entertained millions of people around the world, and his generous spirit will help many HSU students succeed.

Before Nickelodeon called, Hillenburg (‘84, Natural Resources Planning and Interpretation) wanted to design exhibits at aquariums or coastal parks.

“Being at Humboldt really helped me explore all the things l was interested in,” he told Humboldt Stater in 2006. He immersed himself in the natural sciences, but halfway through his schooling, he had a revelation: he was more fond of paint brushes than microscopes.

“I always had a passion for art; I just never really believed that someone would actually pay me to do something like that,” said Hillenburg. “My pragmatic side had been saying, ‘Well, you better learn something practical.’ So I decided to shift gears and pursue both science and art.”

Read about Stephen Hillenburg’s journey from Oklahoma to Humboldt State here (pdf).