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I grew up on the beautiful countryside of Mendocino County about 110 miles north of San Francisco. Growing up, school was a secondary interest to sports—not because I didn’t enjoy learning, in fact I loved it, but I struggled to effectively allocate time—nearly all of which went toward baseball, soccer, basketball, and golf. This, of course, is not the recipe for academic success, and despite being a very promising young student, I failed to develop that potential in a traditional classroom setting. Like so many students I’ve since encountered as a tutor, I knew I had all the pieces to the academic puzzle and just needed to figure out how to put them together.
After high school I happened upon a copy of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics and was struck by how unique, challenging, and rewarding the field of philosophy is. The next three years were spent taking every philosophy class offered at my local junior college. It was during this phase that I began tutoring both formally and informally. I was employed by my junior college as a subject tutor in biology and philosophy, and throughout my education I was always helping (and being helped by) my peers through dialogue and collaboration. I eventually transferred to UC Davis where I graduated with a BA in philosophy (Magna Cum Laude). Within philosophy, my areas of interest are political philosophy, philosophy of law, decision and game theory, logic, and the ancients.
I have to agree with Plato’s Socrates: the best things are those that are valuable both in themselves and for some other purpose. Philosophy fits the bill perfectly; while I consider the particular knowledge that it gave me (such as Russell’s paradox or Rawls’ theory of justice) valuable, its most important affect on my life has been its transformation of my mode of thinking. Philosophy instilled in me an extremely serious, methodological, and thorough modus operandi that’s applicable to nearly everything in life (so much so that my friends make fun of my developing ‘principles’ for extremely mundane things, such as navigating traffic).
I’ve found that this analytical approach is highly beneficial to students looking to prepare for the SAT and ACT. Such tests are filled with tricks and traps, and it’s really rewarding to see my students begin to familiarize themselves with these aspects of the exams and grow in confidence as test-takers. A strategic and curious approach to the world and its problems goes beyond any one exam or subject and is something I strive to impart on all of my students here at AJ. I encourage them to take a step back from a given problem in order to identify any assumptions, reformulate the problem, and critically analyze it from the top-down.
My personal hobbies are mostly game-oriented. I’m constantly playing sports, chess (particularly the fast time controls), video games, and card games. I also love to cook, hike, and push the limits of my patience by reading op-eds with which I vehemently disagree.