|What is your most memorable childhood experience?||I was 6. We were right outside my brothers’ elementary school. I was still in Kindergarten. We had just piled in my mom’s white Toyota Sienna. I was eating barbecue potato chips while playing Pokemon on my Nintendo DS Light. Mama lingered outside. “Hey, come out here,” she whispered to me from behind the car. I hopped out of the car and there stood a scraggly, emaciated black and white dog just 5 feet from her. It definitely did not have an owner. “Here boy!” she called to him. But the dog began to walk around the corner of the street. “Come over here,” Mama said gently. “Try to call him over.” Our family had a habit of picking up stray dogs, sometimes to bring to the local shelter or (more often) to take care of ourselves. The dog looked hungry, so I reached into my potato chip bag and extended them to him. “Here boy.” The dog’s nose wiggled a bit and he turned around. He slowly approached me. I laid the chips on the floor and backed away. He sauntered over to the chips and began to eat them. I got closer and closer until eventually he let me pet him. Stray dogs never let me pet them before! We took the dog home that day. His fur was rough and dirty. So I called him Shaggy. We became best friends, Shaggy and I. For over 12 years we remained friends. Shaggy passed away this past November. I will always remember this greatest of dogs.|
|What immediate family member do you closely identify with and why?||My dad has always been one of my best friends and best teachers. I don’t believe that parents should teach children what to think, but instead how to think. That’s what Papa does. Whenever I have had opinions or questions about business or ethics or life in general, he usually responds with his own questions back at me and then helps me find their answer in a rational and curious way. He’s constantly reading books and magazines and updating himself on relevant facts and ideas. His passion for new ideas (and his jaw-droppingly large collection of audiobooks) turned me into a nonfiction addict myself. I owe my curiosity to him. We both love to laugh. Sometimes we’ll get lunch and just sit for an hour or two and make jokes no one else would understand. Papa and I try to treat life like a game: directed toward an end goal, but ultimately that goal should to enjoy yourself and to help the other players enjoy themselves, too.|
|What character traits do you admire in an individual?||I admire a rational, actively open-minded mindset. Our mind often plays tricks on us, and it can be extremely difficult to know the truth oftentimes, whether we’re thinking about morality, politics, or science. I admire someone who has the patience and the humility to not only admit when they are wrong, but someone who actively tries to discover where they are wrong for the sake of getting it right.
Above all else, I admire someone who is altruistic and compassionate. So many people care only for themselves and their loved ones but forget that there are billions of others who need help, too. I admire someone who sees these needs and realizes that their own self-interests are tiny in comparison to them. Someone who volunteers rather than having to be asked to help.|
|What is the funniest thing ever to happen to you?||In my sophomore year of high school, I became best friends with a god sent to Earth from Olympus. His name was Mark Anthony XXX. I jest, of course, but Mark XXX (as I called him every day) was indeed quite the legend. There was something about that awkward, afro-headed introvert with an underbite that really spoke true wisdom, true spiritual transcendence, beyond that of any man I had met or will likely ever meet. During my junior year, elections for student council approached. “If you ran for student body president, you would win hands down,” I told Mark. “It would be an honor to run alongside you as your vice president.” So Mark, being the benevolent being that he is, decided to run. And so did I. We ran the most glorious and triumphant campaign. The student body, like myself, could not get enough of Mark's’ elusive charisma and noble demeanor. We posted flyers of his face around campus. We shook hands. We pet puppies. Our final nail in the proverbial coffin culminated in a school-wide release of a rap parody of Drake’s “God’s Plan” titled “Mark’s Plan”. In it, we spat fresh rhymes about why Mark was the one true candidate. Needless to say, the song went viral. Candidates began dropping out of the race like flies. The election was in “duh bag”, so to speak. But just a week before elections, the principal notified us that Mark had failed to submit all the necessary paperwork to enter the race. My heart sank.One moment we were on top of the world, the next we were mere early-college high school plebs. Or at least Mark was. I filed my paperwork, and ended ultimately becoming student body vice president. But my school will never forget Mark's valiant attempt to save us. Even though he and I have both graduated, I still read stories from current students who say that when the names “Mark” and “XXX” are uttered in the school halls, the lights dim and you can faintly hear Mark XXX's’ voice rapping the chorus to Mark’s Plan.|
|If time and money were not an issue, where would you travel and why?||I would travel to my family’s log cabin in Canada. Every year or two my immediate family and I go there with about 30 other family members to spend a week enjoying the beautiful wilderness and lakes in the area. I would do the same thing we usually do, but only bring the people who were most special to me, and we would stay there for at least a month. I love exploring nature, taking photos of it and going hiking. With so little wi-fi capability and access to the outside world, it’s such a perfect place to unwind and disconnect from life’s stresses.|
|When and if you ever have children, what would you like to pass on to them?||Like my father has done with me, I would want to pass onto them an ability to think for themselves. I would try to make sure that they knew how to reach rational conclusions, and that they developed a habit of curiosity and learning while they were still young. I would also want them to carry on my love for dogs, and to always have a dog in their lives.|