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A Swift Kick in the Butt

March 15, 2007

Kick in the Butt

Growing up, I’ve wanted to be many things: archaeologist, astronaut, scientist, science writer. But I never really wanted to be a doctor. It was stagnant, it was done for the money, and most importantly, my mother wanted it. So I fought against it. Yet I ended up majoring in Biological Sciences, where everyone either goes on to Medical School or graduate school in a bio-related field. But I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. Sure, I had some ideas, but it was hard to figure out who would be paying me to do these things.

Then I saw Paul Wise speak at a SAID dinner, and he changed my mind. He said that if you work in any policy related field, you have to have “statistical compassion”. You’ve got to feel just as good about seeing a drop in child mortality rates late one night, as you would after saving someone’s life after an 8 hour surgery. I realized that I needed that hands on experience.

I want to help end poverty. But I want to interact with the people I’m trying to help as well. So I want to go to medical school, get an MD and a Master’s in public health and work in international health and poverty relief. I want to work in a clinic in a 3rd world country. I want to make those people healthier with my hands, and with the programs I start and the policies I help draft and implement. I want them to have a better life.

Now that is the goal. To get there I have to do a lot of things. Namely, get my GPA up. It currently stands at a meager 3.3, which is not going to cut it. So it’s time to buckle down and hit the books like I never have in my academic career.

I always laughed at the super grade sensitive, over studying premeds. But now I have become one. But I know why I’m doing it. Not for the money, not for the prestige, not because mom wants me to do it.

But because there 29,000 children under the age of 5 who die everyday due to malnutrition and preventable disease. (unicef)

I will not stand for that. And so I study. It’s time for a swift kick in the butt.


A New Kind of Academy

March 13, 2007

Imagine a college where students get a rigorous, top-notch, all-expense paid education, in the tradition of military academies. But instead of years in the military, graduates would repay their education in public service – be it local, state, or federal government.

This amazing school is becoming a reality, thanks to Chris Myers Asch and Shawn Raymond, and their project: The United States Public Service Academy. Their idea has become a congressional bill and will be introduced next week by Senator Clinton, along with another Senator and 2 Representatives. This is very impressive from 2 thirty-somethings who did Teach for America together, especially since they first came up with the idea less than one year ago!

That is one impressive display of resourcefulness, gumption and passion.

I know you all are dying to help this project out, so here’s what you can do: if you are high school student, college student, or recent grad, express your support for this awesome bill by “signing” the letter and mailing it to

It’s so easy and this is such a great cause.

Dear Members of Congress:

We, the undersigned, are high school students, college students, and recent college graduates in the United States, and we are urging you to support the Public Service Academy Act. We think the U.S. Public Service Academy is the kind of school that young people would love to attend. If the Academy were around when we were applying to college, we would have applied to attend. We need to build it for future generations!



(City, State)

Simps, Improv and Education

March 10, 2007

I just came back from a show by the Stanford Improvisers (SIMPS) called “Phantom of the Improv” at the Pigott Theater. I watched 8 members produce a improvised, unrehearsed 50 minute Broadway-style musical called “The Ballet Class” (the title was selected through many audience suggestions and subsequent voting)

It was incredibly fun.

I love sIMPs shows: they are funny, musical and surprising. This show was the best entertainment I could recommend to anyone. The songs were catchy, the actors were funny and real, and the plot had a great ending. The story was basically about a school where a new kid gets into trouble on the first day with a “bad kid”, then joins the homeroom art project of “expressing yourself” with two other students who learn ballet. The bad boy is eventually convinced to join the project as well and give it a chance. Read more…

Life is Like…

March 5, 2007

I hate how people make all kinds of metaphors for life. Just to prove how bunk they are, I’m usin a random word generator to make 10 metaphors for life on the spot. Tell me they don’t make sense somehow =)

Life is like …  

  1.  Accents – everyone has one and they are all a little different – making it harder to understand some people more than others
  2. A guarantee – you can find it with anyone, but it doesn’t mean much except for a select few who truy honor it.
  3. A disaster – (nothing more needs to be said)
  4. An infection – it grows on you
  5. A chair – you have one purpose – to have people sitting on you
  6. A butt – it can be rough and dirty, or soft and beautiful
  7. A bigot – it can tolerable most of the time, but just utterly offensive and terrible at other times
  8. A flame – it starts of small but can grow into somethng bright and warm, and eventually flickers away
  9. Jumping – it takes a lot of work to go far or high
  10. Baking – you put it something soft and gooey, wait, and eventually you get something firm and wonderful.

Get Inspired by History

February 28, 2007

This world is filled with incredible people and incredible actions. I found this website –Things Other People Accomplished When They Were Your Age – that allows you to input your age and out pops a list of people and the incredible achievements they had accomplished by that age.

  • Jason Shen compiled and published a book (that holds no weight to the stuff below)
  • English novelist Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus, which was immediately successful.
  • Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard and cofounded Microsoft.
  • Charles Lindbergh learned to fly.
  • Jane Austen wrote Pride and Prejudice, her second and most famous novel (dang that early huh?)
  • The Greek philosopher Plato became a disciple of Socrates.

Check it out – get inspired. We are all capable of incredible things in our own lives.

Why I Love Being a Gymnast

February 16, 2007

I’ve been a little bummed about my knee, mainly right now because its hard to get around and move and sit comfortably. But I realize that the biggest reason why is competing. The point of sports is to compete – with yourself and with others. Right now, I still into the gym almost everyday and I work out my upper body, core and legs as much as I can without hurting my knee. I still work hard, I just can’t really do much on the equipment.

Tommorow our team has a competition against Cal and I will be there, but I will not be competing. And competing is where all the hard work pays off. When you raise your hand to compete, you are trying to perform your routine better than you have ever done it and better than everyone else in the arena. When you raise your hand, you are signaling to everyone that you are among the select few people on the planet who can move their body in this way, explode with this much power, twist with this much control and work with this much strength.

I imagine there are less than a few thousand people on the planet that compete collegiate level gymnastics or higher. Thats less than .0001% of the population. I am extremely proud to be a part of that select few, and now that I am sidelined, I feel that I have lost that status. And it hurts. I will be doing all I can to recover in these next 9-12 months. I know that my body can only take this sport for so long, but I plan to make the most of my time with it. There is nothing like being a gymnast.

Poverty, not Global Warming, is the Problem to Solve

February 10, 2007

Global warming is a huge problem – but it’s pretty much too late to do much – let’s focus on poverty relief instead.

Much has been made of the recent report released by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The report is pretty depressing. Here’s a summary from Wikipedia

  • Warming of the climate system is unequivocal
  • Most of the observed increase in globally averaged temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations
  • Hotter temperatures and rises in sea level “would continue for centuries” no matter how much humans control their pollution.[9]
  • The probability that this is caused by natural climatic processes is less than 5%
  • It is more than 90% certain that there will be frequent warm spells, heat waves and heavy rainfall

This is the result of seven years of work of over 2,500 climate scientists from all around the world. The report spells out some serious consequences for our future. The key to note here is that these temperature rises will “continue for centuries”. This means that even if we stopped emitting any sort of greenhouse gases, or even stopped increasing emissions, we will still inevitably suffer the consequences of global warming.

The problem is, by we, I really mean the poorest people. Americans and Western Europe will not suffer much – more heat spells, and some rise in sea level will be annoying sure. And yes, there will be deaths. But the majority of the damage from climate change will be wrought upon the people who have contributed the least to it. The one billion people who live on a dollar a day.

Since we have seen that climate change is inevitable no matter what we do, I think the most important thing to do now is to alleviate poverty as much as possible, to give these people a chance to prepare themselves for the onslaught of droughts, heat waves and other damaging climate events.

I plan to become a social entrepreneur and specifically work on issues of poverty through sustainable methods like micro-finance. We already blew it on global warming, let’s not blow it on poverty.