A winding path from STEM to the arts

My time in high school

Attended high school in the

Overall high school experience
8/10. High school was a lot of work and quite intense at times but I did take advantage of a lot of opportunities that set me up better in college and beyond.

Grades in high school
Mostly A's.

Favorite subjects
Computer Science / Engineering / Technical, English, Foreign Language

Struggled with...
I struggled with certain aspects of Chemistry and Math; I had trouble visualizing some of it.

Favorite extracurricular
Community Service / Social Activism

Life since high school

To me, being successful means spending my time bringing joy, health, reflection, and peace to myself and those around me.

Attended college / university at

Majored in
Mechanical Engineering

Post-graduate education or training
I got a graduate degree in Mechanical Engineering  

Places lived in US
California, New York

Current occupations / past occupations
I worked in product design then user experience strategy and design, with a stint in improv and sketch comedy. Now I write and consult.

Industries I've worked in
- Information (e.g. Publishing, Film, Broadcast, Telecommunications, Libraries)
- Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services (e.g. Law, Accounting, Interior Design, Graphic Deign, R&D, PR, Advertising, etc.)
- Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation

Did your education prepare you for your career or occupation?
Yes, the fundamentals of design and the design process can be applied in any creative industry, but I don't use a lot of the technical knowledge I gained in college. I also learned how to complete larger scale projects with a diverse team.

Has your education or career/occupation trajectory ever changed? How?
Yes, I always imagined I would end up in a single career that was based in some kind of engineering. In reality, my career has been an evolution of one thing into the next in ways that didn't always make sense. I never thought my techie-analytical self would choose to leave a lucrative career for the uncharted "softer" path of writing. 

A little introspection...

To me, being successful means...
spending my time bringing joy, health, reflection, and peace to myself and those around me.

My definition of success has changed over time. 
I used to think being successful meant becoming the top of whatever field I chose, and it wasn’t enough unless I became famous and rich. And I only ever thought about it in a career-context, not about love, family, community or anything else.

My greatest accomplishment to date and what I’ve learned from it
Strangely, my greatest accomplishment was leaving a C-level position that I had worked 10 years to earn. I learned that as I gained high titles and more "power" at work, the less joy I felt inside. I was further and further from the actual work I wanted to do and external accolades felt hollow. 

My biggest mistake or regret so far and what I’ve learned from it
Generally, I've learned my worst mistakes in life have all been about not setting proper boundaries. When I came out to my parents, they had a hard time adjusting and I let their concerns drag on for years - elongating the pain and suffering unnecessarily. When I finally had a heart-to-heart with them, and drew clear boundaries of treatment I wouldn't accept any more, we all found a way to move forward. Things are better now than I ever imagined. 

An unexpected event that significantly changed my life and how it impacted me
When my partner's mother died totally unexpectedly, it was the first time in my lucky, sheltered life that I encountered death firsthand. The anguish, the grief, the questions, the shock, the vacuum left behind, and the long term ripple effect completely changed my perspective on life. I saw both how long and deep pain can run and eventually I learned about scars and healing. It deeply affected how I lived my life afterwards - with more compassion for others and with more appreciation of the limited time we get on this planet.

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My favorite spot in or around Palo Alto

The Arizona cactus garden at Stanford