Right now I’m a math major. I’m also putting together an interdisciplinary major in comparative literature, but the final bit of paperwork there still needs to get handed in by me, which will probably happen shortly after I get back.
Why do you like math so much?
It’s beautiful. Part of its appeal is the way it combines creativity with objectivity. For a given axiom system, if you can prove something true then it’s true and that’s that, but there are a lot of ways to go about any individual proof and two people will typically find two different methods of proving the same thing.
Tell us about your summer job.
I worked as a summer analyst at Deutsche Bank. It was a Wall Street-style sales-and-trading job. I worked primarily with credit and correlation derivatives. The job entailed a mix of things. There was a lot of research, as well as modeling, presentations, legal document work, and, of course, some of the generic grunt work.
What do you do on your weekends during the school year?
I spend the larger portion (Friday and much of Saturday) of most weekends debating at other schools. This sounds harsh, but the fact is Fridays on other campuses are still Fridays on college campuses and so there is usually a party to be found after rounds are over. It’s a fantastic activity, a lot of fun, trains you to think and really easy to join.
What is with the same outfit everyday?
This is probably what I’m most (in)famous for. I wear a black shirt and khaki pants every day except for particularly dire laundry days. The reason I have about a dozen of each and not much of anything else is fairly simple. It takes all the thought out of dressing. One half of my closet has black shirts the other half has khaki pants; in the morning I can just grab one from each half. It makes it impossible to not match. It also makes me easily recognizable from a distance. The reasons I went with black and khaki over any other standard combination are fairly practical. Black doesn’t stain. Khakis are more comfortable than jeans. Khakis plus a shirt with a collar are appropriate for a fairly wide range of formalities (although real formal events will often find me in a suit rather then my preferred outfit).
You have an interesting laugh. Tell me about it.
When most people laugh they blow air out their mouth making a ha ha sound at mid-to high-volume; when I laugh I send the air out my nose and bypass the vocal cords which makes a soft semi-snorting sound. In sixth grade my friends and I told jokes to each other all the time at school and a laugh that could be heard by a teacher standing across the room would have gotten us in trouble, so we all just developed ways of laughing fairly quietly and then never lost the habit.
I hear you have done a lot of traveling. How many countries and states have you been to?
Thirty-eight countries if you count Hong Kong which was an independent country when I went there, although it isn’t now. I have also visited about that many states.
What has been your favorite and why?
The easy answer to favorite country is the U.S. since it’s big and has a lot of fantastic and very diverse places; New York and Alaska are both great and nothing alike. Also, the fact that they speak English here makes it a pretty easy place to get around and you don’t have to worry about converting your money. As far as foreign countries go, that’s a tough one. I can’t really pick a favorite country because a week or so in a place isn’t really enough to judge a country on, and where you stay and how things go can really skew your perceptions, so I’ll have to go with favorite trip rather than favorite country. Here I’d probably say Egypt. The desert landscape is great and the ruins of ancient Egypt are truly incredible. I was really lucky with the timing of the Egypt trip. My parents and I went right at the end of the Gulf War so tourism was at an all-time low. When we saw the great pyramids at Giza the only people there were my family, one couple and one guy trying to sell camel rides. Having the major temples and tombs of Egypt pretty much to ourselves was a unique experience.