Where do you live?
I have been lucky enough to live in the Capital Region my entire life, presently in Wynantskill. As “square” as that may sound to the 18-year-old me, I feel that I now have deep roots planted in this area and I value that greatly.
Tell us about your family?
My wife, Katie and I have been married 11 years. We have two kids: Kay, 9, and Theodore, 7. Kay is an enthusiast of DIY YouTube videos and gymnastics. If she’s not attempting to make her own cosmetics out of items in the pantry, she can be found terrifying us with her back handsprings in the backyard. Theo is a Lego Masterbuilder who someday dreams of becoming an insult comic.
Who inspires you?
I am reminded daily of the genius of some of my remaining living musical heroes, specifically Chuck Berry and Little Richard. Fortunately, I haven’t aspired to emulate their personal lives!
With whom at DS do you still connect?
Since I still live in the Capital District and I cast a wide social and professional net, I see LOTS of DS folks! There are too many to list! Ian Carlton and I play music together almost daily. I see the Byron’s, the Gallo’s and the Dively’s all the time. Not to mention running into others on a daily basis, or Facebook.
How do you think DS prepared you as an adult? As a professional?
It’s hard to quantify the influence Doane Stuart had on me. First of all, I am professionally doing what I had planned on since middle school, which is to play music. When you spend your teenage years in a small social environment, you can’t help but to seek your own identity. I carved a path for myself that I really don’t believe I would have chosen if I had gone to a large public school. Secondly, the academics at Doane Stuart were rigorous enough to prepare me for the hard work that it takes to be in the arts. Again, the 18-year-old me would be shaking his head in disbelief, but I really enjoy hard work and independent study. I think Doane Stuart planted that seed in me.
Shahiba Kogut (DS ’91)
As a working parent, what do you find to be the biggest challenges to achieving work-life balance? Learning how to just be a parent. I would love nothing more but to be home with my two young precocious children. However, I know duty calls and I have to honor my professional work commitments as well. I regularly struggle with learning to “turn off work” and/or the inevitable guilt trip when I am dedicating more time to work than home. So how do I cope? I make the simple moments count; including my famous breakfast made for champions. It’s a win-win. The kids start out with a nutritious meal alongside happy, cheerful dispositions and I get good quality time chatting them up.
What do you wish you had more time for right now?Reading. I wish that I not only read more and but had the motivation to at least finish reading what I’ve started. There’s just something about finishing a book or a newspaper from cover to cover that provides a sense of accomplishment or closure. As I am writing this, I am staring at the newspaper on my kitchen table, with different sections pulled apart and stories unread.
What is making you feel grateful today?
My kids. I have two healthy and happy children. They give me a sense of joy that’s simply irreplaceable. Despite the typical banter between siblings, the kids just beamed with laughter as we strolled through our neighborhood pool today to bask in the sun and enjoy a quiet picnic.
If you could travel anywhere for a 1-month adventure, where would you go?
Tour du Mont Blanc and beyond. A friend shared a NYT article, “100 Miles, 10 Days, Three Countries, and a Lot of Cheese” several months ago that I have not been able to stop thinking about. The idea of taking an arduous trek through the mountains of France, Italy and Switzerland sounds inspiring. Equally, the idea of the “epicurean indulgence”, which includes tasty cheeses and savory wines, is perfection! Extending this 10 day trip to a 1- month adventure would be a must.
Who inspires you?
My mom. I am in absolute awe of this woman’s quiet strength. She escaped her homeland of Cambodia with me at tow. In the US, she set aside the past events and started fresh, swiftly teaching me how hard work and fierce determination were key factors to growing up to be young, independent woman. Her steadfast will power and sheer drive to not only survive but be successful in whatever you pursue is infectious. I had no choice but to follow in her footsteps.