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Spotlight on a Consultant: David Lysenko

Tell me a bit about yourself

I recently graduated from Georgetown University with a degree in international politics and minors in Russian language and Eastern European studies. Now, I spend my days traveling (I’ve visited 17 states and 6 countries so far this year), working online as an educational consultant, and programming on my free time.

What's the scariest thing you’ve done for fun?

Every year my friends and I go skiing in Utah or Colorado. Here, we often go backcountry skiing, which is when you go off the resort to ride on that sweet, untouched powder. However, this comes with some safety concerns. While ski resorts dynamite parts of the mountain to shake off lose snow, these areas are untouched, and therefore are susceptible to avalanches. This is probably the most fun and dangerous part four days of my year.

If you could eliminate one thing from your daily routine what would it be and why?

The DSM-5 defines addiction as, “A complex condition that is manifested by compulsive substance use despite harmful consequence.” Given that I go through a two-pound bag of pretzels every three days despite knowing how bad pretzels are for my health, I think my affinity for the salty snack technically qualifies as an addiction. I definitely wouldn’t mind eliminating it from my day.

What’s a childish thing you still do as an adult?

I’ve been told that I’m the most annoying person to match a comedy movie with because I laugh like a five-year-old child. Why is it cute when a child laughs, but when I do it, I get popcorn thrown at me in the theater? Thoughts?

If you had to wear a t-shirt with one word on it for a year, what word would you choose?

There’s a great blog run by Nuseir Yassin called Nas Daily. Nuseir travels the world and narrates his experience with the amazing people and cultures he encounters. He wears the same shirt every day: a loading bar that that shows the percent of his life that he has completed if he lives the average lifespan for someone of his demographic. He explains the reasoning for his decision in this video, but the one that resonates with me most is that it acts as a reminder to live each day to its fullest. Therefore, the one word on my t-shirt would be “Life.”

If you had one extra hour a day, how would you spend it?

I’m always working on various side projects, but always feel like I can’t keep up with all of them as new ones continue to pile up. Any additional time I’d get I’d put towards those, whether it’s working on some code, starting a business, or planning my next trip to another country.

Would you rather have more time or more money?

You can always earn more money, but no matter how much money you have, you’ll never be able to get back lost time. Always choose time over money.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m kind of a nerd, and the nerd inside me screams when I hear this question. There’s a great YouTube channel called Because Science that breaks down the science of movies. Because Science ran a whole series of videos explaining why, given the laws of physics, you wouldn’t actually want pretty much any superpower, including superspeed, super strength, immortality, flight, teleportation, invisibility, x-ray vision, or the ability to turn back time.

I apologize – had to get that out of the way. I assume that what this question is really asking is what superpower I would choose if the laws of physics did always not hold. If so, I would point you back to the previous question regarding time; the superpower I would choose would be the ability to manipulate time (travel back, forward, and pause time). I could travel back in time to get an instant redo for any mistake I make, travel forward in time to see the outcome of any event, and freeze time to finally get through all the books on my reading list. Doesn’t get any better than that.

What’s the most important thing in your life?

My goal in life is to do my part to make the world better, even if that means something as simple as making life a little better for one person. After all, to the world you might be one person, but to one person you might be the world.

What’s something unexpected that changed your life for the better?

The School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University has a language requirement. Since I had studied Spanish in school, I figured that I would just continue studying Spanish in college. When I first got into Georgetown, I was placed into Advanced Spanish I, even though I told the head of the Spanish Department that I believed that the class would be too hard for me. On the first day, we had a pop-quiz on which I received a 42%. At this point, I was so frustrated by the Spanish Department, that I decided to switch to learning Russian. This was the best decision of my life. I fell in love with Eastern European culture. Since freshman year, I have studied abroad twice in Russia, worked at several Russian companies, and interned at the U.S. Department of State Office of Russian Affairs. This just yet another example of how one door closing means another door opens.

What is your favorite academic pastime?

My freshman year in college I had some free time, so I decided to teach myself how to program. After taking some classes online, I decided that the best way to practice my new skill was to apply it to a concrete project. I was really into fantasy football at the time, so I wrote an AI to play daily fantasy sports online for me. It was a nice side-hustle to supplement my income. I’ve since gotten out of the game, but with the recent Supreme Court decision and the likely resulting proliferation of sports gambling around the country, I’m thinking about getting back into it and writing a more advanced algorithm.

What is the most rewarding experience you’ve had through Hermiona?

There’s nothing better than the excitement you get when you’re on the phone with one of your students to tell them that they’ve been accepted to their top program. The sense of vindication for all the hard work finally paying off is palpable. I love it!



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