I started my freshman year at Georgia Tech on August 15th, 2005—which itself was the 6,772nd day of my life.

As of today—February 29th, 2024—that day was also 6,772 days ago. I never really left Georgia Tech after I started—I began teaching my own classes a week after finishing my PhD, and even while I worked at Udacity 100% of my time was spent on the OMSCS program. So, that means that as of today, I’ve spent half of my life at Georgia Tech.

This seems like the perfect occasion for a completely unnecessary graphic:

Still to date, a little over half that time has been as a student: 3,546 days across three degrees, 3,226 as a teacher and researcher since then.

I’ve known this day was coming for quite a while, actually. I calculated it and put it on my calendar over two years ago. During that time, I knew I wanted to say something to mark the occasion. I thought about writing about why I stuck around, but the truth is that it has never really occurred to me to even consider leaving. Every stage has led smoothly into the next:

  • I came to Georgia Tech because I wanted to stay in-state and study computer science (…and because my girlfriend at the time was already here, let’s be honest).
  • I stuck around for a Master’s because I accidentally graduated earlier than I intended and didn’t have anything else lined up yet.
  • I stayed for a PhD because I learned late in my Master’s about these new efforts to create intelligent tutoring systems, and—as a private tutor on the side myself—I was instantly really interested in the idea.
  • I stayed after my PhD because developing a course with my PhD adviser sounded like a fun thing to do for a year.
  • I stayed after that because I discovered that I love online teaching: it has been everything I love about teaching—plus a lot of what I love about coding—without the stuff I never liked, like having to be compelling in front of a live audience.

And I’m still here because—at the risk of being overly quixotic—I really enjoy what I get to do. There’s a Japanese concept called ikigai that has been summarized by some nice infographics, and it’s rare to find something that sits at the intersection of all four areas—but for me, this does. I enjoy what I get to do, I believe the things we’re working on improving the world, I (obviously) have made a living at it, and I think I’m halfway decent at it. Parts of it, anyway.

I thought about writing all the people I would want to thank for helping me get here, but this would be a far longer post and I’m sure I’d still forget several people and be mortified when I realized. So instead I’ll just say: it’s been a fantastic 6,772 days, and I’m excited to see what the next 6,772 hold.