My undergraduate studies at Indiana University had me travelling all over the campus to study every topic that interested me. My coursework in Biology, Computer Science, Mathematics, and Cognitive Science made me realize that I could combine my interests in Olaf Sporn’s Computational Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory, where I studied sensorimotor coordination and embodied robotics using informational theoretic and complexity measures. Also at IU, I was very involved in the Intensive Freshman Seminars, both in the summer and in their pilot year long program. I collaborated with Fritz Lieber to not only teach courses from the School of Education but also to study the dynamic structure of IFS as an educational medium.
After receiving my B.S. degrees from Indiana University, I decided to leave academia for a few years and enlist in the U.S. Peace Corps as a mathematics teacher in Tanzania. After ten weeks of intensive training, which included technical teaching skills, Swahili language instruction, and cultural integration techniques, I was placed at Matema Beach Secondary School in a village called Mababu. It was near the tip of Lake Nyasa (Lake Malawi) at the base of the Livingstone Mountains and I was a stone’s throw from the jungle. My house had no electricity and I retrieved water from a pipe outside my house. In school, I spent my time creating new educational materials, problem sets, and methods to accurately address students’ environments, instead of using the British examples in their textbooks. In extra-curricular activities, I helped my counterpart to create a HIV/AIDS and life skills drama team, an inter-district debate team, and a permaculture project to improve vegetable growth. I also helped represent Peace Corps during the Prime Minister’s visit to my school.
Upon returning from Peace Corps, I used my noncompetitive eligibility benefits and took a job with the Department of Veterans Affairs as one of the first Veterans Claims Examiners for the new Post-9/11 GI Bill. After training for three months and working in the department for awhile, I was singled out to attend meetings and give presentations to high level government executives, including the VBA Associate Deputy Under Secretary for Field Operations, the VBA Under Secretary for Benefits, the VBA Chief of Staff, a representative from the Office of the Inspector General, members from the U.S. Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, and delegates from the White House. As a Post-9/11 GI Bill Subject Matter Expert and Software Tester, I did two tours of duty, one in Washington DC for a week and another in Chicago for a month. I programmed several macros for local office use and made ample use of suggestion programs to promote better methods in nationwide software, all saving thousands of taxpayers’ dollars.