2009-06-20: Post Frosh Year

Intro: In Short

If any sentence in the summary intrigues you, there are several additional paragraphs related to that sentence in the body of my letter, and the index will tell you where to look.  Make sure you read the full version before commenting about me to someone else, though.  Regardless of how much you end up reading, write back!  I look forward to hearing from you.

Class: I liked my classes.  I continued my humanities class, took a class on Statistics in Computer Science, took a class on social movements, and took a peer counseling class.  The humanities class helped me refine some of my values (though the most significant part was my teacher’s recommendation of a Camus book that wasn’t on the syllabus, The Plague) and let me practice telling jokes (the secret is being awkward); the CS class was an interesting step back into the world of math and gambling; the social movements class was more about sociology than social movements; the peer counseling class taught me some very useful skills.  I have been solidifying my relationships with my CS advisor, Mehran Sahami, and my unofficial advisor, Michael Rosenfeld.  I have a 4.0 within my major (Computer Science), and have continued to get As (with one A-) in my other classes.

Activities: I started coaching middle/high schoolers debate, which has been very enjoyable and showed me that I like (and am moderately good at) teaching and that teaching has very little to do with the lesson plan and very much to do with crowd control.  I became a project director for Dance Marathon Hackathon, an organization that gets computer science people to volunteer their time to program for nonprofits.  I became a deputy chair of technology for the student government, and we’re doing some public service related projects.  I’m also the cochair of the Queer Straight Alliance, and I hope to do a lot of activist stuff (the applied side of social movements) next year.

Speakers: Tons of amazing speakers.  There were lots of big names (CEO of Microsoft, Supreme Court Justice Breyer, George Shultz) that had talks without any content.  The highlights (in terms of content) for me: the developer of the videogames Civilization 4 and Spore (possibly the most pirated video game ever) talks about how he hates copyright and how to make video games that matter (in the intellectual and journalistic senses of the word “matter”); oodles of people who made technologies for the third world (ie, a $25 baby incubator) and for people in poverty in the US (ie, Majora Carter’s work with green technology in the Bronx) make me realize that Social Entrepreneurship might be the way that I use my skills to help people; the person who eradicated smallpox with the World Health Organization and someone from the Gates Foundation make me believe in the amazing potential that humans have for social good – we have eradicated a disease before, and we can do it (or something even more amazing) again.

Politics + Service: I ran for a senate seat in the student government and lost.  It was close, I learned a lot, and I got involved with the campaign of the people who won in the executive race.  I also made a youtube video, went shirtless for a day (it’s ok – there was body paint), and got hundreds of people to know my name.  It’s like I’m a celebrity!  I volunteered on a panel for people interested in going to college and as a tutor for some of the less advantaged youth in the Stanford community.  The HAAS Center for Public Service taught me about event planning – that is, begging for money and being frugal.  The Food Stamps Challenge had me eat on a food stamps budget for a day and made me internalize some of the reasons why welfare is a good and necessary service.  The Day of Silence made me think about what it would be like to be denied my voice and about my role as an ally to LGBTQ people.  I leaked the location of Condoleezza Rice to some protesters.

Life: I am the most likely to start a cult (I bet it’s my indomitable will) and second most likely to save the world (also my indomitable will), but I was only 4 votes away from being most romantic.  LG broke my phone.  I managed 19 hours of sleep one day before finals week.  I might have had swine flu and almost choked on Tylenol.  I am the victim of identity theft (and your data might be insecure too!).  I watched someone rip up a painting in an art museum.  My roommate and I talked (in our sleep).  I spent my train ride to Eugene hiding in the luggage compartment. 

Summer Plans: I’m going to read a bunch of books, write a program that tells postmodernists to rewrite their papers, watch pointless TV, and do my civic duty.

Future Plans: I’ll begin the school year with some Google programming.  My residence will be the farthest place from the Computer Science building on campus.  I picked my roommate for next year before meeting him.  I got the most satisfying rejection letter ever, so I won’t be teaching in Stanford’s introductory Computer Science classes this Fall, but probably this Winter.  And there are more classes to take than I could take even if I stayed at Stanford until someone else saved the world, but featuring prominently on that list are classes on social entrepreneurship, classes in the business/education/law schools, and a singing class.

Index and Notes for Reading

I included numbers 1-4 after each heading.  1 = interesting stuff, but probably not very personal; 2 = interesting ideas that are very likely my beliefs; 3 = interesting and personal stuff; 4 = wow, that must be really important to me, value laden, and personal.  Keep in mind that something with a 1 doesn’t mean that it was unimportant to me or that it will be uninteresting to read; the numbers indicate how personal my writing style in a particular section is. 

The acronyms: SLE = Structured Liberal Education, my humanities course.  SoCo = Sophomore College.  CS = Computer Science.  Soc = Sociology.  ASSU = Associated Students of Stanford University – the student government.