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I would like to introduce myself by sharing my favorite quote:

“Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved.” – Thomas S. Monson

As a non-traditional student, I have found this counsel to be particularly prudent. Two years ago, on August 18, 2012, I married the love of my life: Jamie Hall, a sweet red-headed girl with a heritage of southern hospitality. While she isn’t a “home-grown spud” like me (as Idahoans say of those who were raised in Idaho), she fit right in at Idaho State University, my undergraduate institution. Culture in Idaho is very different than here in Michigan. Remember the Shire from The Fellowship of the Rings? Well, if you thought of Idahoans as hobbit-like you wouldn’t be too far away from the truth.

The yellow and blue were meant to be

Anyway, three months after we were married we found out that Jamie was pregnant, and our third “Idaho spud” came into the world: my son Nathanael. He is one of the happiest, most curious and independent little boys you will ever meet, and I love him profoundly. While some people may have hobbies of horseback-riding, marathon running, or sports, my hobby is being a Dad.

That's *my* boy--Nathanael

Life is *so* busy these days for everyone I know. There seems to be an unending supply of meaningful activities to pursue and good to be done, especially here at the University of Michigan Medical School. I have since enrolled in an advanced Spanish elective, joined the Latin American and Native American Medical Association, begun basic science research in a lab investigating the cellular causes of heterotopic ossification (a sequela of traumatic burn injury), and accepted a position as a co-director of the University of Michigan Student Run Free Clinic. Here is the miracle: despite all these things, I still have time to be a husband and a father.

How? How is that remotely possible? Trust me, I’m no Superman (“hobbit-like,” remember?). The key is that the University of Michigan, as one of the most innovative and progressive medical schools,  has enough confidence in their students to afford us the flexibility we need to pursue our passions. All of our lectures are recorded and able to be streamed at up to 2x speed, so when I have had to miss lecture to be in the lab or to go with my family to a doctor’s appointment, I can watch them later. Our quiz/test system, “Flex-time Quizzing,” is also unique; beginning weekly at 2 or 3p.m. on Friday, our quiz/test will open I can take it *whenever* I want (in a medical school computer lab) between then and Sunday evening. What does that translate to? No Thursday night cramming, Friday night date-nights with my wife, and the occasional football game (Go Blue!) with all of my studying/quizzing in-between, at my convenience. Oh, and by the way, my wife and I had an ultrasound last Friday confirming our hopes: “spud” number four is going to be a girl!! Expect cute newborn pictures after February 9th, 2014.

Medical school is full of problems to be solved, but at the University of Michigan Medical School, I have the flexibility to make time for the people I love.

One Potato, Two Potato, Three Potato, Four!

(Image courtesy of: KY3, <>)