What’s your Meyers-Brigg personality?
I was typed as an ENFP, and I’ve found it to be a pretty accurate description all round. I aim to inspire people and I love making new connections- between ideas, between people, between people and ideas… in fact, sometimes I find it difficult to stop thinking of new options and start evaluating and working with the ones I already have. That’s one of the things I want to work on this year.
What’s the most inspiring class you’ve ever taken?
I have to go with the math class I took in my sophomore year at St. John’s College. Before I went to St. John’s, I’d never really liked math. But sophomore year, math blew me away- I loved everything about that class, from the readings to the tutor (professor.) We were reading and discussing Ptolemy’s astronomical calculations and models, Apollonius’s conic sections, and Descartes’s analytical geometry, which amounted to an in-depth, behind-the-scenes tour of algebra as I learned it in high school. Working through all these proofs, and actually seeing how one could use the equation y = mx + b to illustrate the various ratios that defined the conic sections, was a very powerful experience for someone like me, who had never actually understood where those handy equations came from, and thus never really felt comfortable using them.
Seeing (and in a sense, participating in) the development of algebra from geometry was one of the most exciting things I’ve ever done. I was connecting huge gaps in my understanding, finding beauty in a place I hadn’t expected, and also good at math for the first time in my life. I had similar experiences in junior math, junior lab, and senior lab, when I finally started getting a handle on calculus and physics, but it took sophomore math and the example of Mrs. Trigg to get me to the point where I could get so much out of those later classes.
Mrs. Trigg is one of the hardest-working people I know. Since, as she told us, math wasn’t her strong suit, she put an enormous amount of time and effort into preparing for each class. And that effort paid off- if we got stuck on something, it was usually something she’d gotten stuck on, too, and so she could give us helpful suggestions on how to get through it. Her discussion questions were always intelligent and probing, and her assignments were some of the most useful I’d ever had in terms of helping me organize and think through information. She made me want to work as hard as she did, because with her it was clear that the amount of effort you put into something was directly proportional to how much you got out of it. Because she spent all of her time learning, she was an amazing teacher.
She showed me that with the right guides, sufficient resources of time and brainpower, and hard work, you can probably learn anything- and that collaborative learning is a very effective way to teach new things. And I that’s a huge part of why I applied to 2Seeds; we have these beliefs in common.
What’s the best Halloween costume of your life?
When you were 10, what did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was 10, I wanted to be a paleontologist, just like every other dinosaur-obsessed 10-year-old in America. I was also into geology at that point, probably because I loved the National Geographic book “Exploring Our Living Planet,” which was about the forces and processes that shaped the earth as we know it. Twelve years later, I still like playing with rocks by climbing and carving them, but I probably won’t make a career out of it.
Would you choose to have the power to apparate (be anywhere in the world instantaneously) or fly (be anywhere in the world in a couple of hours via flight) and why?
I’m glad Kate asked this question, because this something I’ve actually debated with myself, usually on long car rides. Assuming that this power is in addition to, and does not replace, any previous mode of transportation, I’d have to go with being able to apparate/teleport. Any time I forget something in going from one place to another, I could just wish myself back where the item is, pick it up, then return to where I wanted to be. I could visit all of my friends much more easily, get to places that I would otherwise need a car to go to… it would save me a lot of tedious daily transportation time. And for times when I’m travelling with other people and thus the journey is half the fun, I’d refrain from apparating. Unless I’m on some sort of strict schedule, I love road trips with friends and family and wouldn’t give them up.
What’s your favorite website to waste time on?
This is difficult for me to answer, as I waste a lot of time on the internet, but at the moment it might be Tor.com. As someone whose pleasure reading is primarily science fiction and fantasy (with the occasional literary novel or actual science book), it’s consistently interesting to me. They also update often, with book reviews and re-reads, all sorts of genre-related articles, links, and discussions, and the occasional exclusive short story.
If you could meet anyone from history, who would it be and why?
I would meet G.W. Leibniz, 17th & 18th century mathematician and philosopher. I’ve always been impressed by polymaths/Renaissance men, and Leibniz was interested- and good at- everything. He developed calculus independently from Newton, tried to synthesize Aristotle and the emerging scientific viewpoint of his time, anticipated many developments in information theory and biology, and in my opinion has a delightful view of the world. He wrote a lot of letters and short papers, on all sorts of topics, and I had a lot of fun junior year trying to figure out how one person could have so many different facets and interests, and what kind of perspective could tie together all of these disparate ideas. Logically enough, his philosophy (and mathematics, and physics, and theology…) is all about the relationship between parts and wholes.
I feel like I know him fairly well through his writings, but I wish I could have met him in person all the same. And though his taste in headgear is questionable (one wonders how many poodles died to make that wig), he was apparently rather charming in person, especially when one considers the competition. Elizabeth Charlotte, the Duchess of Orleans, said of him, “It is rare for intellectuals to be clean, and not to smell, and to understand jokes.”
Do you have a nickname?
To my friends from high school, I’m Pelly. Before someone gave me a pencil case, I used to always be in need of something to write with, so I’d borrow other people’s. My friend Sonya demanded her pencil back, but she mixed up the first letters and said, “Pelly, give me back my kencil!” and it stuck.
To a small group of people in college, I’m Kellytron. This is less explicable, but “Kelly Trop” sounds sort of like “Kellytron,” so it was probably another verbal slip-up, this time on the part of my friend Rachel while we were on a camping trip in West Virginia. Then we decided that this meant I was a robot, and it’s become a sort of ongoing tall tale/inside joke that at last count involved a ruined alien civilization, my MoonSword (don’t ask), and the Great Rift Valley.
What’s your favorite tradition? (could be family, could be from school, wherever)
I’ve become very fond of Storytellers, which is a club at my college that meets from 10 pm to midnight every Wednesday night. We sit in a circle and tell or read short stories aloud. Milk and cookies are provided. It was the way I met some of my closest friends, and it introduced me to a lot of great stories, as well as exposing me to the art of storytelling. I love that it’s trained me to look for and share stories, because they’re a great way to learn about people.
If you had a million dollars today, what would you do with it (savings isn’t an option)?
If I had a million dollars, I would buy you a green dress (but not a real green dress, that’s cruel!)