“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be.”
Douglas Adams has always been one of my favorite authors and perhaps that’s as insightful as anything else I could share here. If my life is a “place invariant” system, then where I started doesn’t matter as much as how far I’ve come.
Initially a percussion major, I played in several bands throughout my undergrad at James Madison University in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. One of these was a campy science-fiction themed synth-rock group called Pelicanesis. The “Keyboard Synthesizer” project actually grew out of an idea the band had to make live shows more interactive.
After a few semesters of 10-hour marimba practice sessions in small rooms with no windows, I decided I would try my hand at deliberating some big picture problems. So naturally I enrolled in a Chinese course and promptly changed my major to International Affairs. I read about the socioeconomics of Chinese liberalization and the efficacy of global sustainability policy, which is all quite interesting and significant. But by the time I graduated, it was clear that rhetorical arguments and analysis weren’t the best way for me to contribute.
I spent some time as a snowboard instructor at Heavenly Ski Resort in South Lake Tahoe, California, where I was able to concentrate on my physical health and reevaluate my strengths and goals. I read books about cosmology and technology and built a few things including this guitar amp. It was during this academic hiatus that I rediscovered my curiosity about physical world and my passion for projects and problem solving.
The goal is still to help tackle some of the big picture problems, but in a narrower, and hopefully more quantifiable way. I want to help create technologies and processes that might increase quality of life, or create a safer, more efficient work environment, or facilitate the implementation of renewable technology. The field of robotics has the capacity to channel these motivations.
So I moved to San Diego, enrolled in some mechanical engineering prerequisite courses, and brushed up on my coding. The freely offered, “self-assembled,” Nand2Tetris course from MIT was particularly engaging. While at San Diego City College, I worked as a tutor in the Math Center and quickly became a supervisor. After a year and a half, I was accepted to the LEAP program at BU, where I found the true meaning of hard work; and where fortunately I’ve had the grit to excel.
Thanks for reading!
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