In Spring 2009, I experienced that hardest decision that I made in my life to date. Faced with some amazing options for pursuing my PhD program in Computer Science, including UC Berkeley and the University of Washington, I made a choice that seemed counter-intuitive to most people around me. The variables that I optimized for, however, were weighted and constrained based on many lessons that I learned not just from growing as a person in college but also as a computer scientist. Here’s what went through my head between February 6 and April 15, 2009.
Technology and Courage. “Family, friends, work, in that order.”
Visit Days. I feel like I made the most of my Visit Day experiences. I met several future colleagues. I debriefed my encounters frequently with Christina, Matt Welsh, and alumni of various institutions that I visited.
Ultimately, it took a long time for my mind to catch up to the choice that it made in April. Two months later, I experienced a lot of cognitive dissonance, feeling the tension of my personal life and professional life coming to a head with no discernible “perfect” choice.
In the end I chose to go to NYU in order to be with Christina. She was my girlfriend at the time of my decision, but three months later we were engaged with blessing of both of our families as well as our church community.