Completing the Ringling Clown College program was no easy task for Torkildson. His family was embarrassed by his career choice, and he felt rejected by many of his fellow clowns. Despite this opposition, Torkildson became one of the top performers in his class, and graduated as one of only 12 students with an offer to perform with the Ringling Brothers Circus.
As his college days came to a close, Torkildson began to notice a classmate, Tim Holst, who stood out from the other students.
“This was the first time I’d ever been away from home,” Torkildson said. “I could do anything I wanted and I was considering my options. I noticed that Tim Holst … didn’t swear, didn’t drink (and) didn’t smoke.”