Tawanda Michael Mahere was in Thailand two years ago and there was much to celebrate: The startup he’d been working at was being acquired by Google, he had a job offer from there, and he’d just applied to Stanford GSB.
Benjamin Yeh, ’18, didn’t mean to choose the same college as his identical twin brother, Christopher. But their independent choices led in the same direction. “We have similar ways of thinking, and the more that we’re together, the more that our idea of what is optimal converges,” Yeh says. During their undergraduate years, they both explored the sciences, studied abroad in Madrid and worked as residential staff in freshman dorms. Now they’re both embarking on coterminal master’s degrees in computer science.
‘I was talking to some friends of mine who are going to grad school. I think there’s some conception that undergrads have a lot of fun and then in graduate school you just hunker down. But that’s not true at all. I think graduate school is as much about the social experience as about the learning experience. You never make it through a project on your own, right?’
“If you subscribe to the idea that undergrad is ‘explore everything,’ and then you narrow yourself in grad school, I made a perfect choice. Bioengineering did just that.
“You take all the natural sciences and put them together, and you find yourself at bioengineering. And it’s also human-centered. One of my favorite classes was bioethics.
“The average person definitely does not know how gene editing works, or how antibody therapies work, or how new immunotherapies work. These are things that I can read a paper about now and understand. But I feel like I never really got good at anything. I think I’ve seen it all, but I’ve never really done any single project that’s taken me deep enough where I feel like I can master it.
“After four years at Stanford, every single time I run into a computational problem, a math problem, a challenging problem that I haven’t exactly seen in class, I’m always thinking, ‘Oh, I know Chris could have done this better.’ But I know my IQ should be same as his, right? [laughing]
“[My perfect day] would be just sleeping the whole day. I think the most I’ve slept consecutively is something like 16 hours. Or, wake up, go for an early morning run or bike ride, have a nice breakfast. Maybe spend some time at the library, read some books I have not touched. Maybe go figure something out — academic questions I’ve wanted to ask and didn’t have time to look at. Get an afternoon coffee with a friend. Go golfing, or play some tennis. Get better at something that I want to get better at. That’s really it.”
Benjamin Yeh, Stanford Graduate Student
STORY AND PHOTO COURTESY OF STANFORD MAGAZINE