I was in the car with my mom at a suburban Bay Area drive-through at 5:04 pm on October 17th, 1989. At first, we thought the shaking we felt was being produced by the large pick-up truck in front of us. When they pulled away, I could see big rolling waves coursing through the asphalt of the wide, four-lane street in front of me. I watched as the large plate glass windows across the street wavered but did not break. We raced quickly home where my eight year old sister was alone. She was shaken but perfectly fine, like the rest of our house. I was eleven years old and it was all fascinating to me. I have been interested in the way the earth works ever since.
There is something else that motivates me to study the earth and the stars: I simply love the way thinking about geologic time makes me feel. In a world full of violence and ugly politics, the big ideas of science are a wonderful reminder of our insignificance. This, more than any other reason, may be why I have chosen this particular path.
Despite a love of science and reading, I struggled with school throughout my teens. It never particularly held my attention and, when I could, I got out. I spent many years working and traveling the world before finally deciding to give school another try at the age of 27. It’s amazing what a difference it makes when you actually want to be there. My poor academic performance of the past was gone and since returning to school in 2005, I have excelled in all of my classes. Even when I made it to UC Berkeley from my community college, and despite the unexpected loss of my father in February of 2011, I have managed to surprise myself with what I am capable of.