I grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska, as the only child of two middle school teachers and the grandson of two more lifelong educators. Teaching and learning were always fundamentally important in my family, and they were what drew us to Stanford, CA, when my mother began her Ph.D. in education. Over the next seven years of my life, the Bay Area made quite an impression on me. When my mom and I moved to Fairfax County, Virginia, after my freshman year at Palo Alto High School, I had a strong feeling that I would be drawn back to the Bay Area.
I threw myself into the rigor of school in my new home, and spent a month at the Virginia Summer Residential Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities before my senior year. There, I was surrounded by people like me, passionate about learning new things and devoted to pursuing interests and hobbies that their friends back home may not have shared. I dreamed of going to medical school (and shadowed a neurosurgeon) and arrived as a first-year undergraduate at the University of Virginia with a novel plan: to complete pre-med coursework while majoring in history.
I graduated from UVA with a B.S. in biochemistry and a B.A. with high distinction in history, using my archival and library research from a semester abroad in Spain to write an honors thesis about the political activities of a small group of intellectuals before the Spanish Civil War. Rather than making a false choice between the “science path” or the “humanities path,” I entered the University of Chicago’s Ph.D. program in history intent on writing a scientifically rigorous account of nuclear energy in South America.
I have years of experience tutoring K-12 students, teaching college courses in history and humanities, and building success in new academic and intellectual environments. All of these experiences have given me a deep empathy for students who are struggling with a particular subject, topic, or phase of life. Whether my students are university undergraduates, military officers, third graders, or high schoolers, my goals as an educator are to strengthen the foundations of their knowledge, then help them learn where to add the new bricks (or boards, or stones) as part of a cohesive whole.
I find that students’ confusion and lack of confidence in any subject—whether in biology, chemistry, Spanish, or test prep—most often arise from wrestling with disparate facts and parts that do not yet make sense as one coherent, understandable field of knowledge. Every student’s building may look a little different, but the process of drawing up the plans and constructing the edifice is incredibly rewarding for me—and I aim to help students have lots of laughter and fun along the way.
When I’m not at AJ, I love cycling and running around the beautiful Bay Area, enjoying time with my family, reading, traveling, challenging myself with learning complex late-Romantic piano pieces or a Bach Partita or two, cooking, and/or attempting to play my ukulele. I continue to research and publish in Latin American history and studies.