If you knew you couldn't fail at any one thing, what would you do and why would you do it?
I would start a nonprofit organization to train people how and why to live more environmentally sustainable lifestyles. I care deeply about the health of our natural resources, and feel strongly that if the world shifts toward more environmentally sustainable practices, the health of humanity, society, and the global economy will follow. Teaching people how and why to make responsible environmental choices as citizens and voters would be the most effective way for me to cultivate widespread change. No one has said it better than Baba Dioum: “For in the end, we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught.”
Tell us the funniest true story that has ever happened to you.
I was working as a sea turtle research technician in Costa Rica, and living in a rustic field camp. One night, while getting ready to brush my teeth, I set my toothpaste down on a shelf outside the kitchen. I pulled my toothbrush out of its case and went to grab the toothpaste, but when I spun around toward the shelf, I almost stepped on something: an armadillo! The poor little creature was right at my feet, and I almost kicked it like a kickball, right into the research camp! We shared a moment: the armadillo looked up at me, and I at it, both frozen with surprise. Then, as quickly as it had appeared, it ran away.
If you were going to start your own scholarship program, what questions would you ask of the applicants and why would you ask those questions?
What have you done to make a difference in the world? What makes you unique? What would you like people to say about you at your funeral? Without specifically asking about academic, extracurricular or professional achievements, the first question would allow applicants to exhibit their individual strengths and passions. For the second question, applicants could comment on their background, personal obstacles, or interests; however they chose to answer, their response would reveal their personalities and creativity. I read the third question in the book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, and I find it extremely provocative for reflecting on one’s goals and values. These three simple questions would very effectively uncover the distinct qualities of each applicant.