I was born in rural South Louisiana. My father is the chairman of the Pointe-au-Chien, a small Native American tribe who traditionally lives along the bayous and swamps of Louisiana's coast.
As I was growing up, my father made a living as a fisherman, catching shrimp in the Gulf of Mexico. Early on, he started giving me work: reinforcing nets, going out on the boat with him, doing repairs, cleaning up, and so on. From the beginning, I was being taught to work hard without complaint.
In school, I took to most subjects easily. My goal wasn't to know, it was to understand. Memorizing facts was never as useful as understanding the why and how of those facts. I did well in school despite my family's financial hardships; when I was born, my family lived in a mobile home, and throughout most of grade school I was enrolled in the free or reduced price school lunch program. In order to ease the financial burden I placed on my family, I found a job almost as soon as I was legally allowed to do so.
I appreciated my time in school. Though rural, my schools hired excellent teachers, and they recognized my hunger for knowledge. This hunger continued through college, where I tried a little bit of everything: from history and government to art and theater, and from economics and business administration to psychology and communications. I found myself particularly drawn to history and constitutional law, and continued to study them independently long after college.
I worked my way through college, paying for my own books and classes with assistance from any financial aid programs that would have me. I've been, at different times, a stock boy at a grocery store, a video game salesman, a security guard, a computer technician, and a graphic designer during my high school and college years. Holding multiple jobs while also attending classes was not ideal for getting the most out of my education, but I managed to learn a lot despite the pressure. I exited college with minimal debt and an investment in the company that eventually brought me to Arizona.
Moving to Arizona was a conscious decision on my part. I helped to found a company in Tucson, and it has flourished here. The people, the landscape, the distinct lack of hurricanes; I've fallen in love with every aspect of this area. Tucson is the biggest city I've ever lived in, and I think it strikes exactly the right balance between large and small towns. Though I enjoy traveling, I do believe Tucson will be my home for the rest of my days.
I currently live and work in central Tucson along with my wife, Laura, and our two cats, Catalina and Coconino.
From a personality perspective, I'm known for being quiet, observant, and hard-working. I am a big nerd, having grown up on books, video games, and the Internet. I like to balance that nerdiness by getting outside when I can by hiking the mountains around Tucson, traveling around the country and abroad, and biking around town.
I attended public schools in South Louisiana, graduating from South Terrebonne High School.
I graduated from Nicholls State University with a bachelor's degree in Mass Communication and a minor in Government. I studied a wide range of subjects beyond my major, including business administration, economics, psychology, criminal justice, marketing, art, and history. As part of my Mass Communications degree, I particularly took to journalistic ethics and civil rights. In my studies of Government, I focused on constitutional law.
Since moving to Arizona, I have taken some supplemental classes on programming and game design at Pima Community College.
Beyond formal education, I have continued to independently study subjects that interest me: law, history, economics, and administration.
I do not consider myself an expert on any subject. However, I believe my wide range of education will serve me well in allowing me to recognize expertise in others when I seek advice on a subject.
My father put me to work early on, and I began working professionally almost as soon as I was legally old enough to do so. I have been almost constantly employed ever since, working my way through high school and college. The details of most of my work history is not terribly relevant to running for Congress, except insofar as it reveals that I have a wide range of experience and have respect and understanding for everyone who works for a living.
For what it's worth, before my current job I have been a stock boy at a grocery store, a video game salesman, a security guard, a computer technician, and a graphic designer.
During college, I spent some time working two jobs and ended up with enough extra cash to invest in a new company with some friends. That company, Fangamer, was founded in Tucson, Arizona in 2007. While still in college, I volunteered my time and efforts to help the fledgling company grow. We were all volunteers at the beginning. At first, the tiny merchandising company struggled to maintain even a single full time employee. However, through talent and determination we managed to stand out among the crowded market of online retailers.
Shortly after graduating from college, I moved to Tucson to start working for Fangamer full time. Since then, I've helped the company grow. When I arrived, we were operating out of a tiny office, barely more than a hallway attached to a radiator shop. Now, we own an impressive building that's still not quite big enough for us. We've grown to nearly two dozen full-time employees as well as a team of part-time employees who come and go depending on how busy we are.
My personal role at the company is as varied as my education. When the company was smaller, it was my job to do a little bit of everything, from building relationships with other companies to shipping packages. And though we all still ship packages sometimes, most of my time is spent on the administration of the company, including:
- Composing and negotiating contracts - The careful navigation of legalese to ensure that any deals we make with other companies will be mutually beneficial.
- Public relations - Interacting with our customers to keep them apprised of the progress we've made on our projects.
- Personnel management - Reviewing potential new hires, training them to do what needs to be done, keeping an eye on projects, and the countless other tasks that come from managing a workforce.
- Project management - For instance, brainstorming, organizing, and running crowdfunding projects, both to raise money for a project and to take them to completion within the budget. In short, taking an idea and making it a reality.
And more. I am dedicated to doing my job well, and even when I inevitably make mistakes, I work tirelessly to correct them.
I know how to work with people, both within my organization and outside of it. I know how to work with the public; to listen to them and meet their expectations more often than not. I know how to recognize and manage a team of talented individuals. I can lead, and I can collaborate. And, most of all, I care enough to make sure that if I do a job, I do it well.
This, I believe, qualifies me to represent you in Congress. I hope you agree.