Graduated University of Florida with a Bachelors in Economics, Dec 2014
Fun fact: I can fly an airplane solo!
My first real travel was a study abroad experience in Madrid, in Fall 2013. It was here that I learned, very quickly, that traveling brought every inch of my persona into vibrant life. I found peace, wonder, loneliness, adventure, friendship, sadness, joy, challenges, accomplishment, motivation, and more! I experienced soooo many vivid emotions and I just let them flow. It was four months that changed my life forever.
It was in Madrid, when I first sat down and began to investigate what I wanted to do with my life. So naturally, I started with what had brought me the most joy I had felt in my life. Then I evaluated my happiness in past experiences and made the following list of core values:
2) Help people
3) Improve myself personally and professionally every day
4) Go hard (i.e put myself 110% into anything I do, this was added later)
With a set of core values, the decision on what to do with my life was a bit more simple. I focused my attention to the Peace Corps and found that it was perfect. An added bonus is that my Spanish experience would have me put in Latin America and I could master a second language (a passion that led me to Madrid in the first place).
I could travel! I could help people! And I would certainly be developing myself!
All in all I’ve been dreaming of this for two solid years, and now I’m living it!
What has been the most shocking fact you learned about Nicaragua?
I was shocked at the ludicrous abundance of youth here in Nica. 70% of the population is under 30! The civil war of the 1980’s really had an interesting effect on this country.
Have you been out of the country before? If so, where?
I found my element in Europe, from the moment I stepped out of the tube in London I knew I had discovered a passion (I flew in two weeks early to explore a bit, went to London and Amsterdam). Since I traveled alone, I faced enormous challenges that are still beneficial to me today, and will be for the rest of my life. Through these challenges, I developed autonomy and independence, I became comfortable with the uncomfortable, and I developed a love of solitude and my own company. The latter is one of the most important skills to possess. We are the single person we spend the most time with, if we can’t enjoy our own company then we’re in for a long ride.
From Madrid, I traveled (mostly alone) to Barcelona, Salamanca, Granada, Brussels + Ghent, London, Amsterdam, Porto, and Lisbon (my favorite city in the world!) After such a wonderful experience there, I had to keep the ball rolling, I took an internship in Bangkok Thailand in summer 2014, and boy did I work HARD! I was a teacher, program developer, student, and camp counselor all in one! I was working 15 hour days with the best boss I ever had, and the coolest co-workers I am able to call my friends. Man, I must have slept like a baby right?? Nah brah. There was a whole city nightlife to discover. Plus the World Cup was on and the games would be on at 1, 3. and 5 in the morning. I got 5 hours of sleep on a GOOD night. To top things off, I met a Russian girl and we traveled Thailand, Cambodia, and Malaysia together after our work was finished. Those few weeks hold some of my most treasured memories.
Where Spain taught me life skills, Thailand taught me how to be a professional. All of the skills I cultivated in my travels make me the person I am today, and they are extremely helpful to the trials and tribulations I am facing here in Nica.Where do you see yourself in 5 years? How does PC tie into that?
(Please bear an introduction) I am fortunate enough to live in (in my biased opinion) one of the coolest places in the world, Cape Canaveral, Florida, home of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. It was here that Neil Armstrong and company lifted off for the greatest adventure humanity has experienced to date. And it will be here that the next generation of fearless explorers will take off for the Red Planet. All of this from my backyard!
So just about a month ago, my future plans were shaken up and dumped out in front of me, to seriously consider and evaluate. I saw an Delta V rocket launch and it made me truly understand the word “epiphany”. As I watched one of mankind’s greatest accomplishments, the rocket took my mind with it. Neuron pathways ignited in my brain, imagining this machine’s intricacies and it’s implications for the sophisticated development of the human race. Two freshly created pathways stood out:
1) Mankind will go to Mars from my backyard
2) I will be a part of that
So my 5/10/15 year plan involves me returning to university, securing internships in space companies (I have several friends working there already), finishing a masters in engineering, and finally making my mark on humanity by placing a brick, with my name on it, in the road to Mars.
Naturally, I began to question my commitment to the Peace Corps, it seemed like an unnecessary “luxury”. How can I stay here when I have a legit fire under my ass that I can’t put it out. A raging hard on for space, if you will.
But as my time here in Nicaragua develops, I am learning that: 1) I will develop problem solving, critical thinking, and people skills, three skills that are critical to engineers. 2) I will be fluent in Spanish, And wait wait wait…. I am ready to toss aside a dream I’ve cultivated for two years, for a career I really know nothing about yet?
To put it lightly, I have been going through a bit of an emotional crisis the past week.
Although my decision on whether or not to stay is pending, my mom put it best: I just met the love of my life, engineering, and asked it to be with me forever. I am engaged to engineering. But I ain’t about to marry that b#%$h unless I’m sure its the right thing for me. Peace Corps is the side-hoe that shows me what else is good about life. She’s pretty cool so I should let her run her course on me.
Someone get me a shrink
What’s one goal you have for the 2 years you’ll be in Nicaragua?
My goal here is to develop skills that will be useful to my future goals, as well as staying true to my core values that brought me here. To do that, I’m going to find problems to solve. Leaky faucet? I’ll figure it out. Broken down motorcycle? Let me see if I can help. Failing a subject in school? Maybe we can meet on the weekends. I’ll fulfill my core values of helping people and developing myself, as well as preparing myself for the world of problem solving faced by an engineer.
What has been your greatest accomplishment so far in life?
My greatest accomplishment will be shared by thousands of other people, once the first humans set foot on Mars.
But my greatest accomplishment so far would have to be the base happiness that I cultivated over the past two years. My main role model, and ultimate bro, The Dalai Lama, has taught me compassion, patience, and peace. With these skills, I find myself happy in any situation, finding a way to think positively about my life. Even if I am faced with a terrible pain or sadness, I am still tranquil at the core. Or, as put best by his holiness:
“[Negative emotions are] like the waves that may ripple on the surface of an ocean but don’t have much effect deep down.”
Now I still have much work to do, but a foundation has been built. And with a basic peace in one’s core, and the tools to keep it alive, nothing else really matters.
If you could be rich, famous or influential which would you be and why?
Honestly I’d like to be rich. I don’t have much interest in fame, and influence can be bought. With a strong financial base, I can fund projects, personal or otherwise, that provide a net benefit for humanity. Think Bill Gates, or Nikolas Tesla (my second favorite person).
Also, I want to make sure my family and closest friends are financially secure. They’ve given me so much throughout my lifetime, and eventually the day will come where I can pay them back tenfold.