Stay-At-Home parent enjoying a life lived slowly

My time in high school

Attended high school in the

Overall high school experience
8/10. I very much enjoyed my time at [school name omitted]. I had a nice group of friends, and I enjoyed and did well at school. However, in hindsight, I can see that the school community's sense of normal was completely out of sorts, and the pressures I put on myself for success were uneccessarily high.

Grades in high school
Mostly A's. I think I only got one or two Bs. But 20+ years later, I actually can't remember my grades very well.


Best subjects
Math, History / Social Studies

Struggled with...
Chemistry and Biology. In both of these classes, I got too bogged down in all the memorization that was required. Sadly, I felt the classes did a poor job contextualizing the science. The whole experience was just about stuffing my mind full of facts and then regurgitating them for a test. As a parent fielding scientific questions from my young children, and watching TV shows like Carl Sagan's Cosmos, I am finding that concepts I struggled with in High School are becoming crystal clear to me.

Favorite extracurricular

Life since high school

Attended college / university at
UC Berkeley.

Majored in
Practice of Art. After graduating, I worked as an author for a travel book before eventually transitioning to graphic design and web design.

Post-graduate education or training
After graduating, I have spent a lot of time teaching myself the skills I needed to create websites: computer programming, relational databases and photoshop and Illustrator.

Places lived in US

Current occupations / past occupations
parenting, free-lance website building

Industries I've worked in
- Information (e.g. Publishing, Film, Broadcast, Telecommunications, Libraries)
- Nonprofit

Did your education prepare you for your career or occupation?
Yes. My general liberal arts education gave me a great set of tools I have been able to use to engage with some of the more complicated issues facing our society.

Has your education or career/occupation trajectory ever changed? How?
I entered college with the idea of becoming a History professor, but graduated with an Art Degree. After graduation, my self-teaching led me to work a lot in information technologies. 

A little introspection...

To me, being successful means...
Being able to enjoy loving relationships with your family and friends.

My definition of success has changed over time. 
As I have gotten older, I have realized more and more that getting good grades and a good paycheck don't have much to do with the quality of interpersonal relationships.

My great accomplishment to date and what I’ve learned from it
When I needed to, I learned a lot about how to be a good parent, so that I could become a stay-at-home parent. The learning curve was very high, and it is still a challenge, but I am very proud of my ability to rise to the challenge.

My biggest mistake or regret so far and what I’ve learned from it
My biggest mistake was thinking that grades in school were more important than social networking. The truth I learned as I got older was that knowing the right people at the right time is infinitely more important than having a good report card. I do believe that I missed out on some great opportunities in the years following college because of my tendency to try and solve problems on my own. As I have gotten older, I am doing more to put myself out into the social world to make sure I have real connections with people.

An unexpected event that changed my life and how it impacted me
Right after the birth of my first child, I was hoping to increase my involvement with the company I was working for. Unfortunately, the huge recession, meant that the company actually had to eliminate my position. With my spouse employed in a much more stable position, I suddenly found myself needing to change my plans to become the stay-at-home caregiver to our child.

Anything else you'd like to share that we didn't ask?
I want to say that even though the world is wildly different now than it was in the late 80's, I still relate a lot to the stories I hear coming from Palo Alto high school students. The pressure to succeed has not changed over the years. And, when I look around at the various people I know in real life, it is clear that the path to success is incredibly varied and more often than not does NOT require an education at an elite University.

This alumni is open to your questions and follow-ups.
In order to protect anonymity, we will pass along your message and they can choose whether to respond.

My favorite spot in or around Palo Alto

My favorite place in Palo Alto was the Stanford Dish area before they closed off all the hidden trails. I also have very fond memories of the New Varsity theater.