Farewell! Be thy Destinies Onward and Bright!

Fair Harvard! we join in thy Jubilee throng,
And with blessings surrender thee o’er
By these Festival-rites, from the Age that is past,
To the Age that is waiting before.
O Relic and Type of our ancestors’ worth,
That hast long kept their memory warm,
First flow’r of their wilderness! Star of their night!
Calm rising thro’ change and thro’ storm.

A.

To my parents. You have been behind me from the beginning.

To my brother Ross. You have been my inspiration these past 23 years.

To my late grandmother and late grandfather. Because of you, all this was possible. I only wish you were here today to see it.

To my grandmother. You showered me with love.

To Scott. I hope one day to be as good a teacher as you. By then, I hope you’ll have moved the goalposts.

To David. You tirelessly shared your wisdom and passion, first as my teacher, then my research advisor, then my boss.

To Hongyao. You helped me take my first steps as an academic researcher.

To MJ. You are the single best thing to happen to me during my time here.

To Charlie. I want to grow up to be like you.

To Lucy. You were there when I needed you the most.

To Maya. You set the standards for academic excellence, athletic achievement, and loyal friendship.

To Jesse. You were a great listener, always helping me discover what I actually thought and wanted.

To Will. You respectfully and convincingly challenged my ideological assumptions time after time.

To Mike. You showed me how to “own it” and be comfortable with myself.

To Sofia. Your sense of humor, never tough on others, has kept me laughing even in the toughest of times.

To Caroline. You may be the smartypants of the blocking group, but never forget you’re only #2 in the roastability rankings.

To Trey. You were just what I wanted from a first year roommate—fun-loving, spontaneous, intellectually inclined, and my friend for all four years.  

To Nicole. You never let our ideological differences get in the way of our strong friendship.

To Katherine. You were always a breath of fresh air.

To Tesla. You pushed me out of my comfort zone to where I needed to go.

To Emma, Ethan, Ernie, Henry, Jude, and Daniel. Living with you made coming home at the end of the day something to look forward to.

To Allison, Callie, Kathryn, Maria, McKinley, and Vinny. From the first day in Mower A to our final days in the Quad, you made college fun.

To my fellow HFT Seniors: Erwin, George, Marta, Nat, and Philippe. You pushed me to be a better fencer, teammate, leader, and friend.

To Eric Peterson, Howard Georgi, Jim Waldo, Joe Blitzstein, Joshua Greene, Hiro Tanaka, Yiling Chen, Allison Simmons, Jelani Nelson, Harry Lewis, Kathleen Coleman, and Shengwu Li. Your classes were amazing.

To all those who have touched my college life in other ways: Allie, Alon, Anna, Bea, Daria Schneider, Eli, Geoffrey, Gina, Jed Dupree, Kevin, Liana, Matt, Matteo Zennaro, Meena, Nari, Natalia, Ravi, Stephen, Suproteem, Veronica, and Yasemin.

To Kaitlin Howrigan and all the other admissions officers who gave me the opportunity to be here.

To those who helped me before I ever set foot on Harvard’s campus: Adrian Trenea, Andrew Vincent, Don Shea, Mark Ralkowski, Michael Marx, and Misha Chkenkeli.

To Vincent James. You believed in me like no teacher had before, encouraging me to strive for excellence in everything I do.

Thank you.

B.

These past four years have been quite a ride. Here’s a quick rundown of what I’ve been up to:

·  I graduated from Harvard with an A.B. magna cum laude with Highest Honors in Computer Science. In addition to my CS concentration (major, in Harvard speak), I have discovered a love of mathematics and economics, and I have also studied topics including metaphysics, loss, and the evolution of morality.

·  I’ve met some amazing people who have been the best of friends. Some I met in my first year dorm, some on the fencing team, some in my classes, and some in more serendipitous circumstances. They inspire me, laugh with me, and are always there for me. I wish we could keep the band together, but alas, my friends are scattering across the globe in pursuit of their dreams. I can’t wait to see what all of you do next.

·  I was a four-year member and two-time co-captain of the Harvard Fencing Team. I am proud of what we accomplished while I was here—two Ivy League titles, the first outright title in seven years, ranked #1 in the country—but it’s only meaningful because of who I did it with. HFT has been so much to me—no matter what was going on in my life, I always felt at home at practice. On the team I found role models, teammates, and friends who became like family. Going through things with you made defeat more bearable and victory all the sweeter.

·  In my first theatrical role since elementary school, I played the inspiring role of Factory Worker #2 in the First Year Musical. I’m never going to be a theater star, but I had a ton of fun. Thank you Trey for convincing me to audition.

·  I served as a Teaching Fellow for Computer Science 136: Economics and Computation, a course I previously took. It was through this process that I *actually* learned the material, and the teaching experience was extremely rewarding. During Summer 2017, I also taught a short course about the Internet at a middle school summer camp.

·  I have had the privilege of working with three wonderful research advisors/mentors: Scott Kominers, Hongyao Ma, and David Parkes. With their help, I wrote a paper on pricing in ridesharing networks that was accepted to the 2019 International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence. And with David’s direction, I wrote a senior thesis on machine learning for mechanism design that was awarded Highest Honors by the Computer Science Department. If my immediate future were not already spoken for (see below), I would most likely be following my amazing mentors into the academy.

·  On Monday, I’ll be starting work as a trader at a New York-based quantitative finance firm. This isn’t the place for details, but I am excited about the work I will be doing, and I have pledged to donate at least 10% (hopefully more) of my earnings to help make the world a better place.

The other day I realized that if I hadn’t taken a gap year, I could have had Senior Spring in person. But I also realized that then I probably never would have met my friends. And while I’m sure I would have had a wonderful experience, I wouldn’t have this experience. I wouldn’t have these friends. As the fox once told the Little Prince, “It is the time you have devoted to your rose that makes your rose so important.” I have cherished my time here with the people I love, and that means all the world to me.

As the old song goes:

Farewell! be thy destinies onward and bright!
To thy children the lesson still give,
With freedom to think, and with patience to bear,
And for Right ever bravely to live.
Let not moss-covered Error moor thee at its side,
As the world on Truth’s current glides by,
Be the herald of Light, and the bearer of Love,
Till the stars in the firmament die.

To all of my classmates: congratulations, and thank you. It’s time for us to leave now and do our part to help this beautiful, broken world. I can’t wait to see you again.

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