Jamie: Justin is the most caring, sweet, loving, welcoming, supportive person I’ve ever met. Have you seen Ted Lasso? Justin makes Ted Lasso look like a grumpy jerk. He’s been through tremendous adversity in his life and yet maintains a rosy, hopeful outlook that is infectious to those around him. He’s one in a million, and I’m so lucky to be able to call him my friend. Also, Justin has terrible taste in NFL teams.
We met in my first hour on campus as a student. We both attended the pre-program “math camp” in June 2019. He and I sidled up to each other to connect on a break. I thought he was such a great guy. As the day progressed I mentioned that I knew some of the good pizza spots in New Haven and would love to continue our conversation. We went out to Sally’s (amazing pizza) and, as we continued chatting, we realized our backstories, while different, were both so wild and similar in so many ways. It was an amazing coincidence that I got to meet Justin on day one and he’s been my ride-or-die ever since. I even called my wife that night and the following, middle-school-sounding phrase came out of my mouth: “Honey, you won’t believe what happened… I made a friend at schooooool!”
The first night we hung out, we shared our backstories and were both blown away by the challenges each had worked through. We were bonded by our positive outlook on life and our perseverance to move through our life struggles and continue to achieve. That night, and our dinner we had with our other bestie, David Rowe ’21, were amazing and will not be forgotten.
Justin is so smart and caring. I can tell him anything, and he will accept it without judgment and will help in any way he can. I call him regularly to connect, to blow off steam, or to laugh—and boy, do we laugh. He was meant to be in my life, and I was meant to be in his, and it took us going to Yale to figure that out.
Justin is an amazing person. He leads by example and does so with grace at all times. He’s a role model for how to be present, act, and engage in business and life. I’m so thankful to know him!
Justin: The first thing anyone should know about Jamie is that the reason he is so unbelievably huge (seriously, he’s like 10 feet tall) is it takes a pretty big body to fit in such an enormous heart. I mean this both figuratively and literally–at one point he had open-heart surgery because the amount of love (OK, cancer) he was harboring was too much for one person to carry.
The second thing you’d want to know about him is that overcoming something as traumatic as cancer isn’t even on the top 10 list of things that makes him such an amazing and interesting person. If you knew everything else about him and you found out he had endured that heartache (pun intended), you wouldn’t even be surprised, because he’s one of those people who you just know could move mountains if he tried. I’d say that I truly believe he can do anything, but he can’t go to an NBA game in Seattle, because the NBA knows that Oklahoma is just a better place to be, so I’ll have to say that he can do almost anything that he tries.
Jamie leads with his heart (OK, I promise; no more puns), and once you’re one of “his” people, you have the most ardent and supportive friend you’ll ever meet.
Like so many SOM BFFs, our relationship traces its roots back to the fires of the forges of Feinstein and the famous “math camp.” We struck up a conversation in a break, mostly because neither of us ever stop talking and everyone else just kind of wandered away, and decided that we needed to investigate what all the hubbub surrounding the New Haven pizza scene was about. Maybe it was Jamie’s hysterical dad jokes, maybe it was the delicious pizza, or maybe it was the realization that we are at our core essentially the same person with the same values and the same passions for life, but it only took two hours at Sally’s to know we had each just made a lifelong friend. We’ve been inseparable ever since.
That first night at Sally’s will always stand out to me as a pivotal day in my life. I tend to measure my life by the intensity in which I get to live it—the lives I am fortunate to touch and the love I am able to give and receive—and by that measure, it was one of those rare moments that you know even while you’re still in it you will always remember. I suppose you might say that in the market of life, it was like a GME short squeeze, only it didn’t bankrupt any hedge funds (yet.)
It might be easier to enumerate the ways in which this friendship hasn’t enriched my life. Jamie has been an indispensable source of support as we’ve weathered the storms of 2020, trying in vain to balance life and work and school without compromising our values. I always have a caring and understanding ear to bend whenever I need to explore some challenge or need critical advice or help with homework or simply someone to vent with. I can honestly say that I’m not sure I could have accomplished this without him. What’s best is I know that the best is definitely yet to come, as neither of us are easy to get rid of once a person finds us in their lives.
As our time at SOM draws to a close, I become even more acutely aware of how precious and powerful this experience and this program has been. It has filled me with more knowledge than I can possibly retain, a renewed sense of purpose and power for positive change, and most of all, people like Jamie whom I get to call my friend for the rest of my life. Truly, the class of ’21 is the best that Yale has ever matriculated, and even in the face of COVID-19 and all that life has thrown at us for the past two years, I wouldn’t trade my time with Jamie and our other classmates for any other time in the storied history of this venerable institution. Boola Boola!
(Also, I’d like to share that the Seahawks are awful, the Mariners are awful, and the Sounders are awful. If it weren’t for all that incredible food and culture and unbelievable natural beauty, we would probably be better off moving the rest of the city to Oklahoma to follow the Thunder.)