10 Cool Things I’ve Done

I could post a resume here, but really I’d rather share some of the more interesting things I’ve done:

1. Created a Viral Youtube Video. I never saw this coming – one day, I thought it would be cool if I could build a LEGO ship in a bottle. So I bought a $7 bottle of jug wine, poured it down the sink, and did it. My webcam was privy to all the frustrations along the way, so I edited the video and posted it on youtube. Next I knew it was being blogged and tweeted and received 100,000 views in less than a week.
2.   Taught English In China. I spent my summer in 2007 teaching English in China – an experience that was eye-opening, life changing, character building, and all those other things you say in the essays you write for colleges. But really, it was. I saw over 2000 students a week, in classes as large as 85, teaching the same lesson almost 30 times a week. I’ve never worked so hard in my life, and I’ve never come away from an experience with more than I did from this one.
3. Built a Mongolian ger in the Gobi Desert (and slept in it). My second trip to China was a research project – we were tasked with examining the border relations between Mongolia and China. While we were there, the American Center for Mongolian Studies arranged the opportunity to spend two nights in the Gobi Desert with a nomadic family. We built our ger (which is a yurt or tent), spent time with the family’s herd of sheep, goats, and cows. And for the first time ever, I got to meet my food before I ate it. Nomadic populations are shrinking rapidly in this world, and I’m incredibly glad I had the opportunity to interact with one of them first hand.  
4. Walked into a burning building. It was a training building, but it was still on fire! I was working at a live burn study held by my research lab, the Emergency Responder Human Performance Lab, and the instructors who were managing the burning building aspects of it put me in firefighter gear and let me go inside to take some photographs. My camera even survived the heat. I’ve been doing firefighter research for a few years now, and I’m excited to be able to say I’ve experienced just a tiny part of what they do every day.
5. Jumped out of a plane. Thirteen times now! (3 tandem and 10 static lines). To skydive is to experience the freedom of flight, an inspiring and exhilarating defiance of gravity. Some day I hope to get my license and do it all the time.  
6. Saved a life on a plane. So it was an allergic reaction, and all I did was give an epi pen and some oxygen and handed him off to some paramedics in an emergency landing. But he did live, and I was only 17 so it was much more monumental then than it might be for me today. It’s moments like that which make me remember why I chose medicine as a career.
7. Started a small business. And made a profit in my first year! I started making LEGO jewelry (in addition to the LEGO things in bottles) as a creative outlet during my first year of medical school. I opened an online store in April 2011 and it’s been a ride ever since. It’s a very small operation, but it’s given me the chance to explore the crafting community of Pittsburgh and learn about what it takes to run a business.
8. Learned to swim. At the age of 19. There are some skills that are embarrassing not to have. I don’t mind being bad at singing, but I always minded not being able to swim. So in my freshman year of college, I signed up for beginning swimming. After spending two nights a week at swimming class and going to the pool five days a week at 8am to practice (with some very encouraging friends who were on the swim team in high school), I can now say that I can swim.
9. Was part of a guild that helped to change the World (of Warcraft). I’m not ashamed to admit that I once spent a lot of time playing the game World of Warcraft. And I’m really proud to say that the guild that I helped to found inspired the changes to their social tools in recent years. We created a system that encouraged teaching and learning, gave everyone the opportunity to participate, and included intricate and painfully fair leveling systems within the guild (so fair in fact, that even having created them I was then victim to them when my performance fell behind). We built the guild with the highest loot distribution in the world and on a weekly basis we put the most players through raid encounters of any guild in the world. Blizzard saw our numbers and talked to us about it. And then they changed the game to include the things that we had been doing for years.
10. Got into medical school. I spent my whole life (age 6 onwards?) plotting a career in medicine. And now here I am. I think that’s cool.