My Name Is Erin Ward — This Is Why I Joined Aha!

WIJ Erin Ward

Could you imagine going to medical school in your late 30s with four young children? It is hard for me to fathom. But that is exactly what my grandfather did. Already a professor of chemical engineering at Georgia Tech, he decided to become an ear, nose, and throat physician. This was not a whim — he saw a real need in our small town. So he founded the area’s first otorhinolaryngology clinic. This is just one of the many reasons he is a major role model to me.

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My Name Is Yuko Takegoshi — This Is Why I Joined Aha!

Yuko Takegoshi

Say yes to what scares you. I realized a few years ago that if I wanted to grow, I would need to pursue experiences that might make me uncomfortable. For example, I always wanted to learn to scuba dive, but I was terrified of all the things that could go wrong. A planned trip to Hawaii was a good opportunity to confront my fear. I was initially incredibly nervous during the certification process and was not sure if I would ever dive again. But each time I went into the water, I grew more confident. And then I fell in love with the zen of diving.

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My Name Is Mike Maylone — This Is Why I Joined Aha!

mike maylone wij

Maps have always captured my imagination. It started when I was a kid — my parents and I went on a road trip every summer vacation. We would leave our home in Michigan and head west, typically to Colorado. My favorite part was sitting in the back of the car with a giant fold-out map, helping my parents navigate to our next rest area, hiking trail, or camping spot. To this day, whenever my wife mentions a new place to visit, the first thing I do is try to figure out where it is on the map. 

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My Name Is Erik Johnson — This Is Why I Joined Aha!

Erik Johnson WIJ

I visited more than 20 countries before I turned 12. During breaks from school, my parents took me and my two younger brothers on educational trips. We explored Austria, Italy, Greece, Israel, Jordan, and more. This was before smartphones, so the whole family had to work together to navigate each new city. But my mom and dad were the guides. They spearheaded the planning and were sure to focus on the history of each place.

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My Name Is Phil Wilt — This Is Why I Joined Aha!

Phil Wilt WIJ

“Want to come to a cool computer class?” I asked this question constantly during recess in second grade. I handed out flyers, trying to convince kids to join the class I went to every weekend. But no one wanted to give up their Saturday morning TV time — which broke my 8-year-old heart. I loved computers and did not understand why my friends were not interested.

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My Name Is Deb Gay — This Is Why I Joined Aha!

Deb Gay Aha!

My dad introduced me to fly fishing when I was 12 years old. We spent a lot of weekends tying flies and casting into nearby rivers and streams. You have to do three things well to catch anything. You need to determine where the fish are in the water, learn how to position the imitation fly in a realistic way, and then have the skills needed to reel in a fish. Understanding, learning, and skill — I have applied this same methodology to my life, including my career.

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My Name Is Keith Davenport — This Is Why I Joined Aha!

Keith Davenport

It is amazing to watch someone connect the dots. There is no more satisfying feeling than seeing a person “get it” — especially if you are a teacher. This is one reason I chose to study education in college. After earning my degree, I taught high school students in a small town in the mountains of Georgia. I could see the impact I had on each child’s life and perhaps some small influence on who they would become as they found their own direction.

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My Name Is Kelly Sebes — This Is Why I Joined Aha!

Kelly Sebes

I love a good mystery. In high school, I became fascinated by one of the oldest — the rise and fall of ancient Rome. I wanted to unlock this rich history, so I signed up for Latin class and began reading stories like Vergil’s Aeneid. Each sentence was a clue that brought me closer to understanding who these people were and what they had hoped to achieve. But these questions were not exclusive to ancient Rome.

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My Name Is Andrew Vit — This Is Why I Joined Aha!

Andrew Vit

Like many engineers, my story starts with a computer. When I was 10, I started fiddling with desktop publishing on our family’s Macintosh — one of the earliest computers you could do this kind of work on at the time. As I grew older, my playful exploration became more of a valued skill. I started doing odd jobs for people after school, creating business card designs and small company logos.

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My Name Is Ashley Thompson — This Is Why I Joined Aha!

Ashley Thompson

I have always aspired to make connections and take care of others. Initially, I thought I would do this with animals. I studied biology in college with the intention of becoming a veterinarian. However, something unexpected happened while waiting tables to support my degree — I became attuned to people. My work as a server taught me lessons that I still think about today.

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My Name Is Shannon Sauvé— This Is Why I Joined Aha!

Shannon Sauve

I have always loved to explore where my curiosity will take me. We had a big backyard growing up, and I loved to run around with my brothers and invent new games. During family road trips to U.S. national parks, such as Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons, we would expand our games to a grander scale — hiking our way through the natural treasures. But there were quiet times too, when I would draw, paint, and sculpt.

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My Name Is Barry Paul — This Is Why I Joined Aha!

Barry Paul

I discovered my two great passions in high school — windsurfing and computers. I loved spending time with my dad on the water, speeding through the waves near our home in Ireland. I also loved being part of a small computer club. I was fascinated with how I could visualize the math and physics I was learning in school, creating my own simulations of planetary orbits. Read more…

My Name Is Madeleine Black — This Is Why I Joined Aha!

Madeleine Black

It started with a big book of code. At 8 years old, I was given a guide to BASIC. The idea was that you could copy the code from the book to create simple computer games, like hangman. Once I had copied every line in the book, I started altering the codes — tailoring the games and ultimately building my own versions. I loved the logic of the code and also that I could transform it into anything I wanted it to be. Read more…

My Name Is Mark Crowe — This Is Why I Joined Aha!

Mark Crowe

I grew up in paradise on the island of Maui. I was surrounded by natural wonders and many different cultures. But early on, I realized how important it would be to get out and see other locations, cultures, and people. In high school, I had the opportunity to attend a month-long program at The University of California in Los Angeles. Listening to lectures from executives at companies like Coca-Cola and Smucker’s, I started to get excited about the off-island world. Read more…