What does being one of Pepperdine's 40 under 40 honorees mean to you?
I am overwhelmingly honored to be named one of Pepperdine's 40 under 40. It's hard to fathom how I am worthy of this recognition considering the amazing achievements my fellow Pepperdine graduates have accomplished. Pepperdine alumni consist of remarkable world changers. They are distinguished men and women who are reshaping their industries through innovation, leadership, and service. I am honored simply to be a Pepperdine graduate, but receiving this recognition means more to me than I could adequately describe.
Describe your success:
Currently I am a judge advocate for the United States Navy. JAGs, as we are commonly
known, serve as legal advisors in a number of different areas of law including criminal,
administrative, international, and operational. Specifically, over the last few years
the probability of obtaining a commission as a judge advocate has been shockingly
low with selection rates hovering between four and seven percent of the thousands
of candidates that apply to each selection board (twice a year). In order to obtain
a commission as a JAG officer, one must achieve a high degree of success academically.
In regards to my specific journey, it was a long and arduous one. After graduating from Pepperdine, I worked in the front office of the Kansas City Royals as a statistical player analyst. I spent my time using statistics and econometrics to predict the future success of collegiate and high school baseball players. My job was basically to determine whether a kid had a chance at making it to the big leagues. My time in Kansas City was a wonderful experience, but ultimately I felt like I was being called to a different career in law. Consequently, I applied and was accepted to Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law where I graduated cum laude.
During my time at Dedman I was the president of the Board of Advocates, the largest student-run advocacy program in the United States. It was my responsibility to oversee the organization of local advocacy competitions, arrange transportation and lodging for off-campus advocacy teams (nationally and internationally), and teach younger students the art of trial advocacy. In addition, I was also the president of the SMU Barristers, a select 15-member honorary service society established in 1947. I was responsible for organizing community service projects, managing professor evaluations, interviewing potential professors, and acting as liaisons between the student body and the dean of the law school.
As an advocate, I competed in numerous mock trial and moot court competitions around the country. At the end of my career at SMU, I was the champion of the SMU Mock Trial and the SMU Negotiations competitions. During my 2L and 3L years I was nominated as Advocate of the Year. Upon graduation, I was inducted into the Order of Barristers—the legal profession's highest national advocacy honor for a graduating law student (top 10 advocates of each law school's graduating class).
These successes provided me the opportunity to serves as a Department of Defense legal advisor to the United States Army at Fort Hood in 2015 and commission into the United States Navy as a JAG officer in 2016.
How does Pepperdine play into your success?
I can say with complete confidence that I would not be the person I am today without the training Pepperdine provided me. Not only did Pepperdine train me intellectually, but also spiritually. Pepperdine ingrained in me the concept of having a vocation and using that vocation to serve the greater good. Every day since I graduated from Pepperdine, I have followed the path that led to my vocation. I have no doubt that I was placed on this earth to serve the armed forces as a legal advisor. I am confident that my vocation will put me into positions of influence that provide me with the opportunity to serve others and push back the darkness that so often seems to engulf our world. Pepperdine not only sharpened my mind and provided me with invaluable intellectual capabilities, but it also sharpened my heart. Pepperdine made me realize the beauty in serving others and fighting for justice and righteousness.
Who inspires you and why?
There are so many people that have inspired me along my journey and made me the man I am today. Unequivocally, however, there is one man from Pepperdine I have the utmost respect and admiration for, Provost Rick Marrs. I had the privilege of participating in the Pepperdine religion program during my time at Pepperdine. This program allowed me to travel to London and Israel with Provost Marrs and Professor Christopher Soper (another man who inspires me). During my time traveling to London and Israel, Provost Marrs shared with me the importance of faith, reason, and travel. He showed me that brilliant men and women can still be men and women of faith. He showed me that you can't learn everything by reading a book. Sometimes you have to travel to a foreign land and immerse yourself in another culture to truly educate yourself about another person's way of life. Provost Marrs has inspired me more than he will ever know.
What's next for you? What's your five year outlook? What's your ten year plan?
For at least the next five years, I will serve my country to the best of my ability as a judge advocate. I am not sure how long my military career will be. Part of me aspires to be a career judge advocate (20 years) and work my way up to a high-ranking officer position. However, only time will tell how long I serve as a legal advisor in the navy. Ultimately, whenever my time in the navy does end, I want to transition into academia as a law school professor. I spent a lot of my time in law school teaching younger students the art of trial advocacy and the intricacies of the Federal Rules of Evidence. Ultimately, I want to make a career out of developing the next generation of trial advocates. I've toyed with the idea of becoming a judge or a politician, but developing young litigators is where my heart is.
What's your secret sauce?
How do you prepare for a busy day?
I cannot make it through a stressful day unless I have exercised. I am constantly setting physical goals for myself (I ran the Austin Marathon in 2015, and raced in Ironman Texas 70.3 in 2016). I don't set these goals just to keep my body in shape, but more than anything to keep my mind sharp.
What is one of your hobbies?
There is nothing I enjoy more than playing golf. The late Arnold Palmer once said, "Golf is deceptively simple and endlessly complicated; it satisfies the soul and frustrates the intellect. It is at the same time rewarding and maddening—and it is without a doubt the greatest game mankind has ever invented." I couldn't agree more.
What is your favorite quote?
"If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world." –J.R.R. Tolkien (The Hobbit)
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
There are few things I love as much as cooking for my wife and our friends. Throughout my life, cooking has served as an escape for me. It is a completely mindless tasks that allows me to forget about all of the stresses that exist in my daily life. The kitchen is my fortress of solitude. I think in another life I would have loved to have been a chef, specifically a sushi chef.