Springfield, IL |
Born and raised in Springfield, IL. I lived here until I was 18 and moved away
for college. I went to Catholic school my entire upbringing, starting at St.
Agnes for Kindergarden and 1st grade, Christ the King for 2nd through 8th
grade, and Sacred Heart-Griffin for high school. I don't think I've attended
church more than a handful of times since then.
Most of my work experience in Springfield involved paper routes, baling hay on
farms, moving furniture, printing T-shirts at the state fair, janitorial work,
etc. I'd never used a computer to do anything more complicated than word
processing or email until I went to college. Who knew I'd eventually become a
Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology|
Chlorophyll - more like Borophyll. No, it really wasn't that bad at all. Just
a small engineering school in Terre Haute, Indiana. I didn't know any better
but to go here at the time, and I still think I got a really good education out
of the place (just not much life experience). I lived here off and on for 4.5
years, with a small stint in Ft. Lauderdale my first couple of summers and a
little place called Casa Grande, Arizona my last summer. I don't keep much
contact with many of the friends I made here, but the ones I do keep in contact
with are still really good friends to this day.
After finishing at Rose, I really didn't know what I wanted to do with my life.
I took 7 months off and traveled around the US visiting friends and living on
people's couches for a while. I managed to rack up an $8000 credit card bill
that took me years to finally pay off. Once this trip was over, I took an
internship at John's Hopkins Applied Physics Lab for a few months, before
heading off to grad school at Wash U in St. Louis. One semester later, I'd
dropped out of Wash U and found myself heading for Berlin...
Ah, Berlin. Still, by far, my favorite city I've ever lived in. I could never
adequately describe my experience here, so I won't even try. Suffice it to say
though, that everything that's happened in my life since moving there is a
direct result of having been there. While in Berlin, I lived in the former
East (in Kreuzberg) and worked / studied in the former West at the Technical
University of Berlin. The only reason I came back to the US was because I
decided I wanted to do a Ph.D and saw more flexibility in receiving a degree
from the US than from getting one in Germany. I don't regret coming back to
the states, but I'd move back to Berlin in a heartbeat given the right set of
Washington University in St. Louis|
I'll never understand why I came back to Wash U after having spent so much time
in Berlin. I think maybe I did it because it was the easy answer. I had
already gone to school here for one semester, so I didn't even really need to
reapply. I simply had to fill out a few forms and voilà - instant grad
student again. I spent 2 years here, left with a Master's degree, and have
never looked back. In retrospect, it probably wasn't really that terrible of
an experience. At the time, I just felt like it was a huge step backwards from
what I'd spent the previous 3 years doing. Either way, next stop - California.
From June 2007 - June 2008 I worked at Stanford as a research assistant,
basically living the life of a grad student, but getting payed a substantial
amount more. I lived in San Francisco and commuted down to Stanford everyday
via Cal Train. While working here I applied for my Ph.D at both Stanford and
Berkeley, eventually deciding to go to Berkeley. I really enjoyed the time I
spent here, but I'm also very happy I decided not to stay - Berkeley is just
more my style.
Berkeley is great. When faced with the decision to come here or go to Stanford,
my final decision was ultimately based on how I perceived the character of each
city, rather than on the quality of the research I might do there. I mean, both
schools have great reputations, and I knew I'd like both equally from an
academic perspective. Berkeley just has more character than Palo Alto, so here
I am. That said, my affection for Berkeley didn't stop me from taking a 7
month leave to do a stint of research at the CSIRO in Brisbane, Australia from
May 2010 - January 2011.
Coming to Brisbane was actually a pretty random occurrence. I had already
accepted an internship at Microsoft for the summer, when the opportunity came
up. On a whim, I replied to a job announcement email sent out on the developers
list of one of my former projects. I was actually uniquely qualified for the
job, but didn't really have much interest in going back to work on the project
- at least not until I heard how much I was going to get paid. This, combined
with the fact that I had friends in Brisbane from my time spent in Berlin,
caused me to cancel my internship at Microsoft and take the job down there.
I'm back in Berkeley now, but I'll never forget the time I spent in Brisbane.
Who knows where I'll end up next...