You mentioned that you dropped out of school. Why did you drop out, and at what age?
I dropped out of school when I was 16. This was high school, but I really had not been doing much in relation to high school after the 9th grade. When I was there I had been skipping school and doing things with friends, and spending a lot of time with friends off campus essentially. And I think the primary reason I had dropped out is because I had made a transition from parochial school to public school. I went to parochial school from Kindergarten through sixth grade before making the transition to public school, and when I did I found out that much of what they were teaching me there I had been learning in earlier grades - in second grade even - in parochial school. So I think a lot of it for myself personally was sheer boredom, and looking for other things to do. So in looking for other things to do, I was always fascinated with the outdoors, so I was spending as much time as I could outdoors. I used to go out with friends and do some pretty wild things, like hopping freight trains and doing things like that. Spending a lot of time on the Potomac River, that attracted me a lot more than anything I was getting out of school at the time.
You mentioned that while you were in Hawaii, you really go into falconry and then you decided to go back and get your GED. Was that purely because you felt you wanted to go back and enhance some of your skills, or was it also because you had the idea of going to college in mind?
I got my GED when I was 17. I recognized even after I dropped out of school that there were limits on what I could do without having at least my high school diploma. So I studied a couple of weeks and took the GED, so at least I had that in hand, but had no intention of going to college. It was after I had been Hawaii and doing work on the Hawaiian Hawk, and I had been involved in falconry, that I made the decision to go back to college. I had a plan in mind when I went back to college, but of course between the time I dropped out and the time I went into college, there was probably about a 7 or an 8 year gap. So I had been learning a lot by working different jobs, and doing things like that definitely helped influence my decision and provide a focus for school. The other thing that definitely made me pay more attention in college was the fact that I was paying for it myself. So it was my own investment and I was looking out to protect my investment.