Education, and Things To Live By

I got a facebook friend request from someone I didn’t really know. He said that I

“just seem like a really professional kind of student, you know someone who is really going places with his life. Whatever advice you could give me on getting that same mentality that you have, would be pretty sweet…”

Now this guy is basing his impression of me on my facebook profile, but I’ll take his compliment for what it is.

The truth is my parents and other parents have asked how I got to be the way I am. I think they were talking about my good traits and not my ability to lose things on command, break anything I touch and get distracted by anything with words on it. I guess its more that I got into Stanford, I’m a pretty good gymnast, and I seem pretty sociable/compassionate/intelligent. They want to know where it all came from.

The more I read about personality and intelligence, the more I’m convinced it’s mainly due to genetic differences. I hate how in movies, the main protagonist’s character traits can always be attributed to childhood experiences. Not true. Anyways, I’ve already tried multiple times to write this blog post and I’m never happy with the way it has come out. I’m going to give it one more shot. I’m ditching the essay this time and going straight to bullet points.

My Education

  • Included reading a lot of books – first fantasy and science fiction, then lots of science non-fiction, now a little bit of that literary stuff too
  • consisted of doing a lot of schoolwork that I did not really enjoy (although I did occasionally)
  • involved playing the violin for 5 or so years
  • involved a lot of gymnastics – 20 hours a week from 11 years old – present Continue reading…

Scholarships

Why are you majoring in your chosen field of science, and what are your career goals?I’ve always liked science. As a kid, I wanted to be an archaeologists and dig up Tyrannosaurs bones. Then I wanted to design space ships and work in NASA. Then I wanted to be a scientist and invent new kinds of medicine. I took a lot of science courses in high school, so when I got to college I decided to take different classes. I took a political science course, Chinese and Greek mythology. But in the end I came back to science. In my sophomore year, I declared my major to be the Biological Sciences.

Why biology? I love biology because I love life. And biology is the study of life. Almost everything is related to biology – chemistry, physics, economics, psychology, engineering, even now computer science. There is so much interdisciplinary action happening in biology and its exciting to learn about. I’m well suited to learn biology. I have a great memory. I’m not as much of a problem solver the way chemists, physicists and engineers are, but I have a pretty strong capacity to store knowledge and integrate into understanding of the world.

Many people at my school major in the Biological Sciences to prepare themselves for a career in medicine. Althought my parents would also like me to choose that route, I am not taking it. Nor am I going to climb the ivory tower and become an academic scientist, or even a corporate one. No, I plan to take my biology degree into another field: Philanthropy.

Through my academic journeys I have learned a great deal about how the world is and how it works. And there two things about this world that have struck me very deeply. One is that all of humanity is closely related to one another. There is very little genetically that separates me from a man in India or Spain or Kenya. We are all brothers and sisters.

The second is that there is a great separation in this world between those who have and those who do not. The poverty that ails billions of people across the globe is something I cannot ignore. One statistic that is particularly painful to me – I keep it taped to my wall – every day 29,000 children under the age of 5 die due to malnutrition and preventable diseases. There are few things more painful than losing a child. I have an 8 year old sister and I could not imagine losing her. But over 10 million mothers every year have to face this agony.

I plan to take what I’ve learned in biology to foundations and non-profits that work to make this world a better place. I am incredibly fortunate to be where I am – a student-athlete at a top tier institution. In biology we learn that genetics account for at least 50% of intelligence, and of course I had no choice over who my parents were. And neither did the young girl  in South Africa who was orphaned by her HIV positive mother. What makes her less deserving of a decent life than me?

Beyond philanthropy, there are many issues that struggles that humanity face – energy shortages, global warming, pandemics. I would like to say I did the best I could to ensure the long-term survival and flourishing of humanity. I plan to get a philanthropy fellowship after graduation. Eventually I imagine I would need to get a graduate degree – perhaps in public health or international development.  One of the core precepts of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is: to those whom much has been, much is expected. Compared to the billion people who live on a dollar a day, I have been given so much. And I plan to hold up my end of the bargain.

How will a scholarship from StraightForward Media help you achieve your educational and professional goals? 

As a student at Stanford, I am fortunate to take classes with some of the greatest minds, train with some of the greatest athletes, and hang out with some of the greatest friends I’ve ever known. However, all this comes with a great big price tag.
Both my parents work two jobs in order to pay for my schooling without putting me into too much debt. I am a student-athlete who spends over 20 hours a week training, and I have little time or energy for a job. A StraightForward Media scholarship would  help pay for books. Textbook prices have risen even during my time in college and a little money to pay for them would be appreciated. I also sometimes contact people in organizations I would like to work in and ask them to lunch. StraightForward Media scholarship would allow me to pick up the check for more people and better figure out how I can make the best use of my talents and abilities.

Goals for 2007

I’ve never kept goals from year to year in a place where I could actually see if I accomplished them. Well, this will be the first year I’m going to be doing that. I read some study that said that the people who were most sucessful had written goals. Well, I want to be sucessful so let’s hope this is a casual relationship!

Athletic

  • Contribute as much to the team as I can – through my scores, the way I practice and the way I work with others

Career

  • Get into a better idea of what working in philanthropy is like
  • Figure out what I need to do to get into philanthropy
  • Do some of those things

Creative

  • Finish a fantasy novel by the end of the year
  • Finish and also edit my sci-fi novel
  • Take 50 photographs that I’m proud of and would publish

Personal

  • Spend less time surfing the web and more time doing things – blogging, reading books, doing work, anything else
  • Keep in touch with more people