I was born at a very young age in Lowell, Massachusetts. Quite the jet-setter in my youth, I moved to Miami Beach when I was 1 year old and then up the coast to Fort Lauderdale when I was 2. Pleased with the perennially balmy weather and my proximity to the world-famous Las Olas beach, I hunkered down in South Florida for the long haul.
The third year of my life is a mystery, but when I was 4, I enrolled at Pine Crest School, an institution where I would spend the next fourteen years of my life. Pine Crest was an interesting place that connected me with smart friends, dedicated teachers, and the opportunity to develop great work habits, communication skills, and intellectual curiosity.
As a third grader, I was the first person in my class to solve the pentomino tiling problem. In fourth grade, I started playing music. But because I joined the band late, my instrument choices were limited: trombone, french horn, or tuba. As our band director demo’ed them for me, my father leaned over and whispered, “Pick the slidey one!” With those now-famous words, my career as a trombonist was born.
And what a career it was! Over the nine years I played, I performed with concert bands, orchestras, pop orchestras, pit orchestras, accompanied solos, all kinds of ensembles, jazz bands, and jazz combos. Organizations included the New England Music Camp for two summers, Interlochen for three summers, the Florida Youth Orchestra for six seasons, the Ars Flores Chamber Orchestra for four seasons, the Sunrise Symphonic Pops Orchestra for three seasons, and the Florida All-State bands for two years. Notable conductors I performed under include Frederick Fennell, James Judd, and Thomas Sleeper. At various points, my instructors were Dale Wadman, Mike Balough, Hugh Harbison, and Philip Jameson. (And yes, I made it to Carnegie Hall. How? Practice! And belong to the Florida Youth Orchestra during the 2001-2002 season, which I thankfully did.)
I stopped playing music when I accepted the Trustee Scholarship from Boston University in the fall of 2005. After dabbling in chemistry and economics (and seeing snow for the first time!), I took a statistics course and enjoyed the applied, quantitative aspects of the field. I continued with statistics during my sophomore year and considered double majoring in biology. Then I noticed that I could complete the math department’s combined B.A./M.A. degree program with my remaining semesters of scholarship, so I took all math, stat, and biostat classes for my last two years at BU (with the exception of tango and salsa classes during my senior year), and, as promised, graduated Phi Beta Kappa in May 2009 with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mathematics, both with a specialization in statistics. I was graciously awarded the College Prize for Excellence in Statistics by the mathematics department faculty, and was even asked to give the student speech at the graduation ceremony, which was an honor and a pleasure.
My summers between college years were interesting and exciting in their own ways, too. During the 2006 summer, I worked as a Move Coordinator at the Gentle Giant Moving Company, a great place to work. The 2007 summer saw me participating in the University of Maryland‘s Joint Program in Survey Methodology Junior Fellow Program. I worked as a SAS programmer at the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis for the current Chief Economist of the BEA, Dr. Ana Aizcorbe. I spent my 2008 summer participating in Arizona State University‘s excellent Mathematical and Theoretical Biology Institute under the direction of Dr. Carlos Castillo-Chavez. I worked with Dr. David Hiebeler and other program participants developing and analyzing a spatial model to understand the effects of vaccination patterns in populations on disease outbreak, which we later published.
After graduating from Boston University in 2009 with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in statistics, I moved across the river to Somerville and worked as a summer intern and then a statistical geneticist (essentially an R programmer) at Biogen Idec for a year. And in the fall of 2010, I boldly set out to see a new part of the country and to immerse myself in all things nerdy and quantitative as a Statistics PhD student at UC Berkeley.
I lived and worked in Berkeley for two years. My first year was productive enough, completing course requirements and starting machine learning research with Professor Bin Yu, but during the summer of 2011, some health issues caught up with me. I spent much of the 2011-2012 academic year dealing with medical issues related to the stress of the PhD experience and decided, with endorsement from the department, that a medical leave of absence from the program would be appropriate.
As of June 2012, I’m back in Fort Lauderdale for a year of rest, healing, and personal exploration.