Ivan's Speil

I'm asked quite often for what school I'm attending or what year in school
I am. With both of these questions, there is the short answer and the long
answer. I typically give people the abridged-short answer for conveniency's
sake--otherwise, I end up troubling the querier more than it's worth.
Anyhow, I've decided that it's rather tedious repeating my so-called
"speil" over and over to folks (although, I do sometimes enjoy seeing
people's perplexed faces). So, I've decided to compile this text file to
explain it in all its agonizing glory. Enjoy.

* = add a "well... sort of..." and they _always_ ask "what do you mean?" at
    which point I have no choice but to go into the whole speil itself!
    (or sometimes just say, "err, you'd rather not know," or "it'd take too
    long, you should go pee first")

[ Abridged-short Answer 1 ]
I'm a UC Berkeley student majoring in EECS as a junior/senior.

[ Abridged-short Answer 2 ]
I'm a UC Berkeley student with an undecided major. (hopefully they don't
ask what year I am*)

[ Short Answer ]*
I'm not a UC Berkeley student. I've taken classes on campus as an Extension
student, and now I work as a tutor on campus. I take classes at a local
community college (Laney).

[ The Speil ]
In 1998, I graduated from Oakland Technical High School with a very high
GPA and with interests in Philosphy, Political Science, Mathematics, and
Computer Science. An earlier interest, Engineering, was studied in High
School, but was later moved aside in light of philosophical interests.

The following school semester (Fall 1998), I attended Pitzer College.
Pitzer College is one of five colleges in the Claremont Colleges
Consortium in Southern California along with Pomona College, Harvey Mudd
(this is the one most people know), Scripps College, and Claremont
McKenna. During my attendance at Pitzer, I'd grown a greater liking to
the field of Mathematics and grew a new doubt of my interest in
philosophy. There was, however, the problem that I was (and am) rather
dispicably bad at mathematics despite my love for the learning of the
subject. I loved the lectures but just could not do the assigments (and
pretty much failed all the tests); I felt like a rather naive youth
staring in awe at the masterfully crafted beauty of mathematics
without any comprehension of it. This, coupled with my growing animosity of
the Claremont student populous rooted the seed of my Pitzer demise.

After the first year at Pitzer, I was rather confused as to how to approach
my situation. I'd decided to give Pitzer another chance. During that summer
(Summer 1999), I worked as a web designer/programmer for a law firm in San
Francisco, Steinhart & Falconer LLP. This job would later act as a pivotal
step in my later decisions.

Returning back to Pitzer in Fall of 1999, I ended up taking absolutely no
classes at Pitzer itself and instead enrolled in courses in Harvey Mudd and
Pomona (the way the Consortium is setup, it allows you to receive credits
by taking courses at any of the five colleges)! On top of this, I was also
voted in as Sophomore Class President--don't ask me how that happened, it
just did! None of this helped, and I'd reached the brink of a mental
breakdown (I sometimes believe that I actually did break down) with all its
nasty bits. I decided that I would leave Pitzer after the semester was over
and return home, unsure as to what to do. With just a year and a half (the
last half hardly being worth a thing, considering the state that I was in
was seriously effecting my academic capabilities) of college, I ran away

I'd decided that I needed to keep myself busy. I went back to work at
Steinhart & Falconer where I was able to do something better than mope at
home (and get paid for it!). I enrolled in classes at a community college,
Laney College, taking courses I would later enjoy immensely: Machine Shop
and Design. I discovered that I really really liked learning, and I really
didn't like to work that didn't involve learning. I eventually quit my job
at Steinhart to return to where I've always belonged: school.

An interesting tidbit about community college courses: because the
vocational courses are targetted for adults seeking
credentials/certificates, the instructors typically assume you will end up
working in their vocational field. For instance, my Machine Shop instructor
often said things such as, "You're gonna make a fine fine machinist, Ivan."
This made me feel rather strange, yet proud. However, I'd felt rather
alienated at community colleges because of the age range the other students
were typically of.

The following summer (Summer 2000), I would take CS61A at UC Berkeley
through their summer program which allowed for non-UC students to enroll in
their courses. I also enrolled in a course titled "Literature and
Philosophy." Both courses, I considerably enjoyed. In CS61A discussion, I
met a woman known as Carol Marshall who would introduce me to the
University's CS Self-Paced Center. She suggested a tutoring position I
could take there, assisting students in learning Computer Science.

The fall semester (Fall 2000) rolled around, and I was again without a
purpose. I enrolled in Abstract Algebra through Berkeley's Extension
program, but found I was--again--poorly prepared for any kind of
mathematical reasoning. I dropped the course and enrolled in an English1A
course at Laney to fulfill General Education requirements to whichever
school I was planning to transfer to (Pitzer had no GE's, so it kind of
sucks to transfer from there to anywhere). Taking only one course, I had a
lot of free time on my hands (again). So I took up Carol Marshall's offer
and began tutoring at the SPC voluntarily (read: without dinero).

I returned to work there the next semester (Spring 2001) with pay. Needless
to say, I enjoyed working there. It was an absolute relief after my
alienation at Claremont and community colleges; and it was someplace that
had become a home to me. That semester, I also enrolled in CS61B as an
Extension student. However, there was, again, too much free time on my
hands; so, I decided to audit (read: went to classes without paying for
them [read: stealing knowledge!]) courses on campus. I attended History of
Art and an introductory Philosophy course. The Philosophy course re-ignited
my earlier interests in the field, and the Art History course sparked
another new interest (there are too many already, eh?). Not only this, but
I'd moved into a house in Berkeley with five other students--and I'd grown
to love the situation I was in. I have to note here, this was the best
freakin' semester of my college career yet. I was at home.

The following summer (Summer 2001), I returned home to live (the
apartment's lease had ended) and enrolled in CS61C and English1B at Vista
College. Near the end of the summer, I'd finally decided, "I want to
graduate from college." And so, I began the task of actually trying to
re-enroll in school.

Now, you may be wondering here, "What brought forth this momentous
decision?" It's a rather saggy chain of dependencies and stereo-typical
decision-making. I found a program that allows someone to go to Japan to
teach conversational english *without needing to know Japanese*. There's
only one requirement: a bachelor's degree in anything. You get paid for
teaching, and they help you find an apartment--it's all setup for you! And
so, I decided from this I wanted to do that! Of course, why do I want to go
to Japan? ... To watch more anime of course. :)

So, the next semester rolled around (Fall 2001), and I continued working at
the SPC with a monstrous number of hours. I also worked as a reader for
CS61A (again, I need stuff to fill my time!). And, to make things
interesting, I enrolled in Japanese1A at Laney.

Sometime in the beginning of that semester, I attended one of San Fransisco
State University's so-called "Fantastic Friday" events in which one brings
(1) CSU Application, (2) $55 Application Fee, and (3) Transcripts and one
is *instantly admitted*! So, this is exactly what I did, and ... well ...
it sort of worked. There were a few requirements that needed to be
fulfilled. I enrolled in some late-starting courses that fall to finish the
requirements and...



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