My conscious growing-up began shortly after my family moved from New York to Fairfax, Virginia, a sprawling suburb west of Washington, D.C. Without much hesitation, I would say that the pivotal moment of my childhood was being placed into the Gifted and Talented (GT) program for third grade. This placement put me in accelerated classes with high-quality teachers and ambitious peers. Because the county kept moving the GT program, I attended a number of public schools: Crossfield Elementary, Hunters Woods Elementary, Langston Hughes Middle, Rachel Carson Middle, and Oakton High. I also attended two excellent houses of worship in northern Virginia: St. John Neumann Catholic Church in my childhood, and the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Fairfax (UUCF) in my adolescence and young adulthood. I met amazing people at all of these institutions.
My peers are of particular note — while I had few friends in first and second grade at Crossfield Elementary, many of the friends I made in third grade (and beyond) are still my friends today. From swanky computer jobs to graduate school to elite service programs abroad, my friends from northern Virginia are the most awesome and successful people I’ve been blessed to know. They are my standard in friendship and humanity.