What grades did you attend Bullis? What year did you graduate?
6th - 12th grades, Class of ‘17
Where did you attend college and what is your occupation?
I graduated from the United States Air Force Academy in 2021. I will attend graduate school at the University of Oxford in England on a Rhodes Scholarship, then commission into the U.S. Space Force as a Space Operations Officer in 2023.
What activities or classes were most memorable for you as you reflect on your time at Bullis?
I fondly remember many activities and classes from my time as a Bulldog, because each adventure surrounded me with a new and curious challenge, as well as a wonderful team of people. From Bullis student tutors to student government to the Logos literary magazine - whether in the classroom, in the choir room, or on the wrestling mat - I enjoyed maximizing my time in different experiences and communities. As I reflect on my time in Middle and Upper school, that balanced approach to growth seems most impactful to my personal and professional success.
How did Bullis best prepare you for college and beyond?
Bullis teaches you to be a fearless learner. A strong, comprehensive core curriculum nicely introduces you to the humanities and sciences with an opportunity to invest deeply in certain capstone subjects. I certainly appreciate the hard concepts I learned in the classroom, e.g., balancing chemical formulas, solving integrals, performing literary analysis, and Billy la Bufanda, though I contend the soft skills, e.g., how to take good notes (from Mr. Hunter in the 7th grade), the scientific method (from Mrs. Hollars in multiple grades), how to think critically about our role as global citizens (from Dr. Romeyn in the 10th grade) and so many more "formulas for life," built my toolkit to tackle complex, difficult ideas at the U.S. Air Force Academy.
Please tell us about what you have been doing since graduating from Bullis.
Immediately after I graduated Bullis I went to basic military training at the United States Air Force Academy. These were a challenging six weeks, but after the rigorous academics, athletics, and leadership of Bullis, I felt more than prepared. I eventually served as a cadre instructor for this program during my last two years at the Academy. During my time at the Academy, I received a Truman scholarship for my research in global space policy. Toward the end of my studies, I served as the cadet wing commander, the highest-ranking cadet at the institution (similar to a student body president in civilian institutions). I graduated as the outstanding military cadet from the institution and received my commission to join the U.S. Space Force.
Which part of your journey has been most rewarding?
This question is difficult. I cannot narrow down a singular experience. Wrestling has been a constant in my life, and it taught me discipline, determination, and dignity. That has probably been the most rewarding continuous experience in my life. Perhaps a specific inflection point in my life was my 6th grade language arts teacher at Bullis, Mr. Stowers. He told me (a young student who prioritized speed on tests and essays more than accuracy and precision), "lean in with your whole heart and mind." After that candid reset, I found a new love and inspiration for learning that has stayed with me to this moment. More than a grade on a test, there is something fun about diving into an idea or subject.
What would you say to Bullis students who are currently on their journey to finding purpose?
Lean in with your whole heart and mind. During my college visits, I was surprised that every college I visited found students who said, without fail, "going [insert name here] was the best decision I ever made." I soon realized that it was not necessarily the place, albeit important, but how the person oriented their attitude and impression about the place. Wherever you most faithfully and energetically apply your talents and enjoyments lies your purpose. My favorite Ralph Waldo Emerson quote reads, "do not follow the path already made, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail." Have fun - and be yourself; you'll stumble upon your happiness in the process.
Who is someone that inspires you and how?
Too many people to name. Mrs. Lombardo and Mr. Eist come to mind from my time at Bullis. Both took a humbling interest in my personal and professional development. They imagined the best in me and held me to that standard. Their warmth created an authentic and inclusive environment for me and my family. To this day, they continue to cheer me on, just as I continue to rely on the many lessons of life they shared with me. (I'm confident many other students would share similar sentiments about them and other Bullis faculty).
What is the best book or production that you have read, watched, or listened to lately?
I am reading The Code Breaker by Walter Isaacson. He beautifully recounts the story of Jennifer Doudna, a Nobel Prize winner who created gene editing technology. Today this technology is used to combat the coronavirus. As Doudna explores the code of human life, she shares relevant insights about moral and ethical dilemmas in the future of the human race. Her personal story also evidences the importance of diversity in the field of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
What global challenge would you like to see tackled and how do you see yourself contributing to the positive change that you desire?
In my military career, I hope to craft sustainable global space policy. I understand that the "ultimate high ground" does not seem like the most pressing problem of our generation, but like electricity, we do not always appreciate the importance of outer space until it is gone. The new domain is quickly becoming congested, contested, and competitive; and an asymmetrical element of warfare for our Nation's adversaries. After my time in the military, I would like to continue my work in the public sector. Diplomacy, education, collaboration, and compromise: I would like to contribute honestly to positive governance and statesmanship in a time of heightened partisanship, disinformation, and hysteria.
Why would you tell a prospective family to choose Bullis?
I owe so much of what is good in my life to the strong foundation I received at Bullis. Caring, challenge, and community is more than a mantra: it is the essential component (the DNA and RNA...as Jennifer Doudna might put it) of Bullis School. Aided by a strong Honor Pledge and core institutional and academic values, Bullis is an ideal place for our brightest leaders and learners. I am also certain that the faculty and staff are the most caring and brilliant in the world.
- Class of 2017