Michael Was Here



Finally I’m done. I have my degree, I’ve finished my educational track, and in a few short weeks I’ll be moving to Mountain View, California to start my career as an SRE at Google.

I couldn’t have gotten here without some incredible people, I’d like to list them below. Without your incredible help, I would never have finished, these people are listed in chronological order and with qualifications to the best of my memory. If you have a title and I have incorrectly listed you here, please do not hesitate to reach out to me.

This list is not exhaustive, please don’t be offended if I haven’t mentioned you below. These are the people that leaped into my head as I was writing this. I’m also not confident in the spelling of all of these names. For some of these people its been a long time.

The Early Days:

  • Ms. Jolie - Thank you for pushing me to learn more and keep moving forwards, even when it wasn’t obvious why I should care!
  • Ms. Greenwood - Your dedication to your students is an example to all, I was inspired to push my own boundaries and grow my knowledge and skills, something I still strive to do today.

A little later:

  • Ms. Haddock - One of the only instructors I have had who is more stubborn than me. Thank you, your insistence that I participate in programs beyond the regular school day pushed me to become a better student and actually learn how to study.
  • Ms. Clingan - Accepting an 8th grader to Algebra II was not how I think you expected to start the year, but I appreciate your patience.
  • Prof. Rhea - I struggled through your class and learned what it was to study. This is perhaps one of the single most important things I learned. Thank you.

Ugh, High School:

  • Ms. Rice - Though the normal progression isn’t to jump from Pre-Calculus to University Calculus, I appreciate the time you spent helping me to get a solid foundation and then sharing in my interest of computers.
  • Dr. Hargrove - Though we may have disagreed about the age required to take your course, it remains today one of the best math courses I have ever taken. Your proof based technique inspired me to learn why things work the way they do and not just Google the equations I need.
  • Mr. Berry - I was no good at art when I started your class and I’m not that much better now, but your way of making sure that everyone felt good about their work was amazing. I learned that its always okay to turn out something that isn’t perfect if you’re trying. Once you have something it can be improved, but until you make something there is nothing to improve upon.
  • Mr. Davis - Though I was seething with rage when I was called to sit at the front table, you spent the time it took for me to succeed. Yours was without doubt the single hardest class in my High School career, but I also think I learned the most from it. It will be a sad day when you finally retire and LASA will lose something great, I’m glad I got a chance to study from you.
  • Mr. Bertucci - Your reputation preceded you even before I made it to Texas. Thank you for your kindness and support to a student starting at a new school. I am still in awe of your skill as a craftsman in the shop, and I think one of the most important things I learned from you is that its okay to be marginal at something. We all have our specializations and it takes all kinds of people for a project to succeed.

University:

  • Dr. Stone - Your arts course took me far outside of my comfort zone and skill, it required me to put forward a lot of effort to learn and grow. I was amazed to learn more about the world around me and see it in a different way and I would take the class again in an instant.
  • Prof. Cole - My friends and I knew we wanted to have a Hackathon and we had no idea how to do it. Thank you for taking the time to walk us through the basics of Software Engineering to help us get started and on the right track. The skills you passed on at random meetings are invaluable and students who do not come to your office hours are missing out on a lot.
  • Prof. Smith - Your reputation preceded you in terms I will not repeat. That being said your course challenged me to actually learn rather than coast through it. I enjoyed it greatly and even though I tended to not agree with your TAs, I still think it is one of the courses I have learned the most in.
  • Dr. Harpham - I know its always taking a chance on asking a student to assist with managing part of an official University program. Thank you for taking the chance on me, I’d like to think things turned out alright.
  • Ms. Kelly - College is stressful and trying at times. Thank you for always having an open office door when thins weren’t all sunshine and rainbows.
  • Ms. Brunell - I don’t know how you do it, but you manage to keep track of all of the stuff I was handling and more. Thank you so much for pre-emptively solving problems and always having my back with the managerial tasks I had no idea what to do with!
  • Dr. Straach - I cannot say how thankful I am for your support over 4 long years. I am not sure I would have stayed to finish my degree had I not had the opportunity to talk to you and hear why it was important from someone who wasn’t my own family.
  • Dr. Nguyen - While your classes were incredibly challenging and at times frustrating, the LUG gave me an opportunity to share my love of Linux with the world. Thank you for sharing in that interest.
  • Dr. Sarac - TexSAW was a blast and it wouldn’t happen without your dedication. I also appreciate that you were willing to take a chance on Nick and I to build the tooling to improve things further.

Throughout:

  • Dr. Chen - I still remember the story my Mom told me of you showing up in her office in the back of the Sarkeys Theatre in August 2001 to answer her general posting of finding a student to help me learn about the world of physics and science in general. Your dedication to helping me learn and become a better student made a lasting impact throughout my academic career. I am sure that many of the instructors I have mentioned above owe you a thanks for knocking my ego down a few levels and encouraging me to learn the art of humility. I am immensely grateful for the projects you helped me find and the time you made available for me to work in the Planetarium. Your class remains one of my favorites and I still remember all of the episodes of “The Mechanical Universe”.
  • Dr. Aldridge - Both as mom and professor you have been an amazing resource. When skies were gray you were there for me and you were always willing to take part in celebrating my successes, even if they were incomprehensible. I’m sure over the years there will be many more blinking lights for you to look at, thank you for getting me started!