I graduated summa cum laude with a 4.0 as the valedictorian of James Madison University in May 2021 with a major in Political Science and a minor in Chinese Foreign Language. I spent the summer of 2018 and 2019 interning with The Winvale Group, LLC, a government consulting company headquartered in Reston, Virginia. In the fall of 2019 I participated in JMU's Washington Semester program as a full-time intern with House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy. I finished out my junior year as a foreign exchange student at the University of Oxford where I had a paper published comparing the proliferation of AI capabilities with that of nuclear weapons. In my senior year at JMU, I completed a thesis identifying the drivers of national cyber power advancement. I worked as a consultant at Winvale before entering a J.D. program at the Georgetown University Law Center. This summer, I will be working at Lockheed Martin as a legal intern.
In October of 2011, I took a hard hit while playing quarterback for my middle school football team, and I immediately came out of the game. Later that night, I went to the emergency room to see whether I had a concussion. I did not have a concussion, but the doctors discovered an abnormality on the right side of my brain which, unbeknownst to me, had been there for years. It was decided I would need surgery, which ended up being on my thirteenth birthday. During the surgery they discovered that I had stage three brain cancer. After two more surgeries, I underwent proton radiation for eight weeks at the Robert's Proton Therapy Center. After that, I spent the entirety of eight grade on chemotherapy.
After it all, I came to realize two things: first, life is extremely delicate; and second, there is nothing more important than serving others. In light of this epiphany, I was determined to make a difference in the world. As I thought about my experience, I realized how fortunate I was compared to other kids going through the same treatment. For example, I lived relatively close to a specialized radiation treatment center, affording me the ability to commute from my home. Forced to travel from around the world to be there, many children did not have this luxury, and thus, were forced to stay in a hotel with only one parent, away from those closest to them.
My heightened awareness of the situation, from having experienced this myself, allowed me to see that these children struggled to just be kids. The opportunities to play with friends, enjoy a movie, or go to the zoo, all activities in which the “normal” child engages, were suddenly stripped from children in this situation. After speaking with the center’s pediatric oncologist, I found out that this challenge was compounded by the significant cost of treatment. Understandably, when the primary concern is physical health, the last thing on a parent’s mind is finding a way for their child to have fun.