Former Brainiacs

Where are they now? We catch up with three past ‘Brainiacs’ to see where life has taken them.



Leona Thao

Courtesy

Leona Thao

East Central High School, class of 2008

After high school, Thao earned her bachelor’s in business management from Oklahoma State University. She also spent a summer in Washington, D.C., learning how to be a social change agent with the Internal Revenue Service through the OCA National (formerly known as the Organization of Chinese Americans) Summer Internship Program. Then, in 2014, she received the Diversity of Views and Experiences Fellowship to pursue a master’s of public policy and a minor in program evaluation at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota.

Born in Tulsa, the 27-year-old is an independent consultant in St. Paul, Minnesota. She says one of her current projects involves collecting data about the leadership development needs of Hmong girls ages 12-18 living in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area. The information gathered will help her and her client design a culturally specific impactful leadership program for that population.


What has been your proudest moment to date? “My proudest moment to date is earning my master’s degree,” Thao says. “I’m a child of refugee parents of the Secret War in Laos. As a first-generation college student, many of the things I navigated through were firsts for my family. I’m very privileged because I survived undergraduate and graduate school.”

How do you still embody a “Brainiac?” Along with always wanting to learn and grow, she says, “Everyone is a brainiac in their own way. If you’re passionate about something, pursue it. You’ll be the brainiac of your passion.”

What is the best advice you’ve ever received? To connect with society through responsibility. Thao says, “You cannot change any society unless you take responsibility for it, unless you see yourself as belonging to it and being responsible for changing it.”

 

 

Blaise Staab

Tulsa Memorial High School, class of 2008

Blaise Staab / Courtesy

After high school, Staab attended Columbia University, where he played Division I basketball and received a degree in mechanical engineering. He says his proudest moment was getting a double-double (11 points, 12 rebounds) against defending national champion the University of Connecticut.

Staab will be an MBA candidate at McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas in Austin this fall. “However, I have enjoyed working for the past five years at ONEOK Partners in Tulsa,” Staab says. “I have been challenged by my work as an engineer, but also have been able to serve my community in many ways.”


Do you keep up with any of the hobbies or activities you did in high school? “I have been fortunate to serve as an assistant coach for my alma mater’s (Memorial High School) boys basketball team for the past three years,” Staab says. Memorial won the state championship in 2008 when Staab was a player, and in 2017 the team won the state championship while he was a coach. “I was also able to coach my younger brother during his senior year at Memorial. That was a real treat.”

How do you still embody a “Brainiac?” “I love standardized tests,” he says. “Studying for the GMAT to get into graduate school, I became obsessed with what I didn’t know. If I got an answer wrong on a practice test, I would get so excited because it was an opportunity to learn something new. I enjoy using this mentality in my life today.”

 

Maya Wei-Haas

Booker T. Washington High School, class of 2005

Maya Wei-Haas / Photo by Valerie Grant

Wei-Haas majored in geology with a minor in chemistry at Smith College. Then she headed to Ohio State University for a doctorate in environmental chemistry. However, halfway through the program she realized she was “no longer enamored with science.” Her now-husband, Travis Brown, suggested she take art classes again since she hadn’t taken any after high school. She eventually earned a science-reporting fellowship at National Geographic. Wei-Haas says, “I haven’t looked back since.”

At 30, she is an editorial assistant for science and innovation at Smithsonian.com. She lives in Washington, D.C.

Although she was on the rowing crew and played violin in high school, “these days I’m a lot less musical,” Wei-Hass says, “but I still try to keep up with athletics.” She makes time to run, cycle, swim and row on stationary machines.

Her passions in high school and undergrad might have changed, but she says, “I will always be the slightly nerdy, shy gal who is giggling at comics on my computer. And now, I have more people to share these geeky moments with.”


What has been your proudest moment to date? “That first time I saw my byline under the National Geographic masthead,” Wei-Haas says. “It was one of the first times in many years of doubt that I thought I had found myself.”

She says her biggest goal right now is to spark curiosity in others, by opening “people’s minds up to new concepts and ideas, hopefully giving them a new way to think about the world and the happenings around them.”

How do you still embody a “Brainiac?” “I’ve never thought of myself as a ‘Brainiac’ per se. I honestly doubt my true intelligence daily,” she says. “But I work hard at everything I do, which I’ve learned counts for way more than basic smarts.”

 

 

by
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »You Might Like

Tulsan spreads upbeat rhythm

Positivity is the name of the game for Fred Frierson, aka Playya 1000

Director’s chair

For Jenks graduate, the world’s a stage.

Graduation gift

Artist sketches her daughter’s entire senior class.
Edit Module

Add your comment:
Tulsa Guest Guide

 

Get the best in arts, entertainment and more straight to your inbox.

Join our email list

Edit ModuleShow Tags

October 2018

The Arabian Horse Association is headed back to Tulsa, Okla. for the 2018 U.S. National Arabian and Half-Arabian Championship Horse Show from October 19-27. Join us for exciting new events,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Expo Square
4145 East 21st Street
Tulsa
Tulsa, OK  74114
View map »


Sponsor: Arabian Horse Association
Telephone: 303-696-4500
Contact Name: Kelsey Bergland
Website »

More information

We’re serving up our new chef-inspired fondue and traditional brunch options like Alpine Benedict Cheese Fondue, French Toast Fondue, Avocado Fiesta Toast plus bottomless mimosas. Reserve...

Cost: Varies

Where:
The Melting Pot of Tulsa
300 Riverwalk Terrace #190
Jenks, OK  74037
View map »


Sponsor: The Melting Pot of Tulsa
Telephone: 918-299-8000
Contact Name: Alex Cooper
Website »

More information

FlyingTee is fun for the whole family and on Sundays, kids eat free! *Limit one free meal from the kids’ menu with each purchase of an adult entrée. Not valid on brunches or holidays.

Cost: Free with purchase

Where:
FlyingTee
600 Riverwalk Terrace
Jenks, OK  74037
View map »


Telephone: 918-528-7717
Website »

More information

Wiener dogs are already funny to look at. Now try watching over 100 of them zig, zag, jump, and generally get confused in a test of speed and intelligence! Ok, we’re being dramatic. The pups...

Cost: $10

Where:
Tulsa Oktoberfest
2100 S. Jackson Ave
Tulsa, OK  74107
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Riverparks Authority
Telephone: 918-596-2008
Contact Name: Ryan Howell
Website »

More information

Are you staying in town for Fall Break? The Melting Pot is offering an extended weekend-long family special with kid-friendly fondue for the whole family.

Cost: $29.95 per adult | $19.95 per child

Where:
The Melting Pot of Tulsa
300 Riverwalk Terrace #190
Jenks, OK  74037
View map »


Sponsor: The Melting Pot of Tulsa
Telephone: 918-299-8000
Contact Name: Alex Cooper
Website »

More information

Willkommen to four days of Oompah (or Bavaria or Oktoberfest) in Oklahoma with nationally-known German bands, authentic European foods, arts and crafters MarktHaus, full carnival and fun...

Cost: $10

Where:
River West Festival Park
2100 S. Jackson Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74107
View map »


Sponsor: Linde
Telephone: 918-596-2007
Contact Name: Tonja Carrigg
Website »

More information

  Prepare to be delighted and entertained at Magical Family Evenings. Treat your family to a kid-friendly meal with mystifying magic from 6-9 p.m. at your tableside. Choose from the regular...

Cost: $29.95 per adult | $19.95 per child

Where:
The Melting Pot of Tulsa
300 Riverwalk Terrace #190
Jenks, OK  74037
View map »


Sponsor: The Melting Pot of Tulsa
Telephone: 918-299-8000
Contact Name: Alex Cooper
Website »

More information

The Fear Factory is Tulsa's newest haunted attraction.

Cost: $20

Where:
Tulsa, OK  74115


Sponsor: 75 Productions
Telephone: 918-947-9544
Website »

More information

TU Theatre presents Man of La Mancha on October 18-20 and October 25-27 at 8pm. October 21 at 2pm,

Cost: 10.00

Where:
Kendall Hall
3102 E 4th Place
Tulsa, OK  74104
View map »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Arabian Horse Association is headed back to Tulsa, Okla. for the 2018 U.S. National Arabian and Half-Arabian Championship Horse Show from October 19-27. Join us for exciting new events,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Expo Square
4145 East 21st Street
Tulsa
Tulsa, OK  74114
View map »


Sponsor: Arabian Horse Association
Telephone: 303-696-4500
Contact Name: Kelsey Bergland
Website »

More information

Think you can't do something, like sculpt, build a robot, or make a stamp? Think again! Come enjoy our 45-minute workshops held every Monday at noon at the McKeon Center for Creativity....

Cost: free and open to the public

Where:
McKeon Center for Creativity
910 S. Boston Ave.
TCC Metro Campus
Tulsa, OK  74119
View map »


Sponsor: McKeon Center for Creativity
Telephone: 918-595-7339
Contact Name: McKeon Center for Creativity
Website »

More information

TU Theatre presents Man of La Mancha on October 18-20 and October 25-27 at 8pm. October 21 at 2pm,

Cost: 10.00

Where:
Kendall Hall
3102 E 4th Place
Tulsa, OK  74104
View map »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Arabian Horse Association is headed back to Tulsa, Okla. for the 2018 U.S. National Arabian and Half-Arabian Championship Horse Show from October 19-27. Join us for exciting new events,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Expo Square
4145 East 21st Street
Tulsa
Tulsa, OK  74114
View map »


Sponsor: Arabian Horse Association
Telephone: 303-696-4500
Contact Name: Kelsey Bergland
Website »

More information

Join the Red Shoe Society benefitting the Tulsa Ronald McDonald House in enjoying some yummy food at Red Lobster at 51st and Yale Avenue and support the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Tulsa,...

Cost: Purchase of appetizer, entree, dessert or drink

Where:
Red Lobster 51st and Yale
4525 E 51st St
Tulsa, OK  74135
View map »


Sponsor: Red Shoe Society
Telephone: 580-399-7264
Contact Name: Bayli Hobson
Website »

More information

Our series concludes with roundtable discussions about specific issues in end-of-life care planning and decision-making. Resources, Toolkits for Healthcare and information consultations will be...

Cost: free

Where:
Clarehouse
7617 S. Mingo Rd.
Tulsa, OK  74133
View map »


Sponsor: Clarehouse
Telephone: 918-893-6150
Contact Name: Britni Smith
Website »

More information

It's time to get spooky! Join us for Halloween fun in the garden. We'll watch Mel Brooks' comedy "Young Frankenstein" while we decorate pumpkins. We'll supply the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Central Library
400 civic center
Tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa City-County Library
Contact Name: Rebecca H

More information

TU Theatre presents Man of La Mancha on October 18-20 and October 25-27 at 8pm. October 21 at 2pm,

Cost: 10.00

Where:
Kendall Hall
3102 E 4th Place
Tulsa, OK  74104
View map »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Arabian Horse Association is headed back to Tulsa, Okla. for the 2018 U.S. National Arabian and Half-Arabian Championship Horse Show from October 19-27. Join us for exciting new events,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Expo Square
4145 East 21st Street
Tulsa
Tulsa, OK  74114
View map »


Sponsor: Arabian Horse Association
Telephone: 303-696-4500
Contact Name: Kelsey Bergland
Website »

More information

The United Nations Association of Eastern Oklahoma (UNAEO) will host His Excellency Ambassador Kai Sauer, the Permanent Representative of Finland to the United Nations, as guest speaker for the...

Cost: 100

Where:
Greenwood Cultural Center
322 N Greenwood Ave
Tulsa , OK  74120
View map »

More information

TU Theatre presents Man of La Mancha on October 18-20 and October 25-27 at 8pm. October 21 at 2pm,

Cost: 10.00

Where:
Kendall Hall
3102 E 4th Place
Tulsa, OK  74104
View map »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Arabian Horse Association is headed back to Tulsa, Okla. for the 2018 U.S. National Arabian and Half-Arabian Championship Horse Show from October 19-27. Join us for exciting new events,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Expo Square
4145 East 21st Street
Tulsa
Tulsa, OK  74114
View map »


Sponsor: Arabian Horse Association
Telephone: 303-696-4500
Contact Name: Kelsey Bergland
Website »

More information

Tulsa Metro Sound invites you to visit our weekly rehearsals - to be introduced to the women's All American craft of a cappella singing. We meet every Thursday evening at Christ Church Episcopal,...

Cost: 0

Where:
Christ Church Episcopal
10901 S Yale Ave
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Metro Sound
Telephone: 918-352-6091
Contact Name: Candace
Website »

More information

TU Theatre presents Man of La Mancha on October 18-20 and October 25-27 at 8pm. October 21 at 2pm,

Cost: 10.00

Where:
Kendall Hall
3102 E 4th Place
Tulsa, OK  74104
View map »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Arabian Horse Association is headed back to Tulsa, Okla. for the 2018 U.S. National Arabian and Half-Arabian Championship Horse Show from October 19-27. Join us for exciting new events,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Expo Square
4145 East 21st Street
Tulsa
Tulsa, OK  74114
View map »


Sponsor: Arabian Horse Association
Telephone: 303-696-4500
Contact Name: Kelsey Bergland
Website »

More information

Bring your little ghouls to our annual Not So Spooky Halloween Bash! This is a costume party (only non-scary costumes please). It gives you a chance to see our gym, play a little, win door...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Little Gym of SE Tulsa
6556 East 91st Street
Tulsa, OK  74133
View map »

More information

The Fear Factory is Tulsa's newest haunted attraction.

Cost: $20

Where:
Tulsa, OK  74115


Sponsor: 75 Productions
Telephone: 918-947-9544
Website »

More information

TU Theatre presents Man of La Mancha on October 18-20 and October 25-27 at 8pm. October 21 at 2pm,

Cost: 10.00

Where:
Kendall Hall
3102 E 4th Place
Tulsa, OK  74104
View map »

More information

Its painting party time! Grab your friends and favorite bottle of wine and join us in painting this lovely painting of two kitties gazing at the moon

Cost: 40

Where:
DECOPOLIS
502 S. Boston Ave
Tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Sponsor: DECOPOLIS
Telephone: 918-382-7388
Contact Name: Kathleen
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Arabian Horse Association is headed back to Tulsa, Okla. for the 2018 U.S. National Arabian and Half-Arabian Championship Horse Show from October 19-27. Join us for exciting new events,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Expo Square
4145 East 21st Street
Tulsa
Tulsa, OK  74114
View map »


Sponsor: Arabian Horse Association
Telephone: 303-696-4500
Contact Name: Kelsey Bergland
Website »

More information

We’re serving up our new chef-inspired fondue and traditional brunch options like Alpine Benedict Cheese Fondue, French Toast Fondue, Avocado Fiesta Toast plus bottomless mimosas. Reserve...

Cost: Varies

Where:
The Melting Pot of Tulsa
300 Riverwalk Terrace #190
Jenks, OK  74037
View map »


Sponsor: The Melting Pot of Tulsa
Telephone: 918-299-8000
Contact Name: Alex Cooper
Website »

More information

Come celebrate the arrival of fall!  With hayrides, games, trunk or treating, train ides, emergency vehicles, a petting zoo, and more,  Asbury is bringing in the Autumn season!  This...

Cost: Free, except food items for purchase from Food Trucks

Where:
Asbury UMC
6767 S. Mingo Rd
Tulsa, OK  74133
View map »


Sponsor: Asbury UMC
Telephone: 918-392-1165
Contact Name: Kim Broadhurst
Website »

More information

BaseCamp Spook-tacular: A camping, music, Halloween festival. Be prepared for a kid-friendly spooky night filled with friendly ghost, tent-o-treating, a mini-spook glow hike, and tons of great live...

Cost: Free Entry, $55 Camping Permit, $70 Early Entry Camping Permit

Where:
Turkey Mountain
6850 S. Elwood Ave
Tulsa, OK  74132
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Riverparks Authority
Telephone: 918-596-2008
Contact Name: Ryan Howell
Website »

More information

Once a year, the Oklahoma Aquarium opens its doors to trick-or-treaters of all ages to enjoy a safe, fun, indoor alternative to traditional Halloween activities. HallowMarine 2018 will feature our...

Cost: Varies

Where:
Oklahoma Aquarium
300 Aquarium Drive
Jenks, OK  74037
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma Aquarium
Telephone: 918-528-1507
Contact Name: Liz Medrano
Website »

More information

America’s LARGEST interactive comedy murder mystery dinner show is now playing at the Hilton Garden Inn Tulsa Broken Arrow! At The Dinner Detective, you’ll tackle a challenging crime while you...

Cost: 59.95

Where:
Hilton Garden Inn Tulsa- Broken Arrow
420 W Albany St.
Broken Arrow, OK  74012
View map »


Telephone: 866-496-0535
Contact Name: The Dinner Detective
Website »

More information

The Oklahoma Swing Syndicate (TOSS) hosts a Swing dance and lessons  The Oklahoma Swing Syndicate (TOSS) is the only UNESCO recognized dance organization in Oklahoma.  We are a 501c3...

Cost: $7

Where:
Community Center - South Minister Presby Church
3500 So Peoria
1/2 west of Peoria, on 35pl behind the church
Tulsa, OK  74102
View map »


Sponsor: The Ok Swing Syndicate
Telephone: 918-450-691
Contact Name: Rita Robbins
Website »

More information

The Fear Factory is Tulsa's newest haunted attraction.

Cost: $20

Where:
Tulsa, OK  74115


Sponsor: 75 Productions
Telephone: 918-947-9544
Website »

More information

TU Theatre presents Man of La Mancha on October 18-20 and October 25-27 at 8pm. October 21 at 2pm,

Cost: 10.00

Where:
Kendall Hall
3102 E 4th Place
Tulsa, OK  74104
View map »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

TULtalk


QUIZ: Which Oktoberfest Beer Are You?

Take our quiz to discover which of the many seasonal brews on tap at Oktoberfest, Oct. 18-21, best captures your personality!

Comments

Episode 6: Vanessa Hall-Harper, District 1 City Councilor

City Councilor Vanessa Hall-Harper gives us a debrief of why civilian oversight might be the next step to mend relations between community and police.

Comments

From the editor: Only in downtown

I’ve had so many “only in downtown Tulsa” moments.

Comments

An Insider's Guide To Downtown Tulsa

Experience downtown with these tips and tricks for navigating the districts — where to eat, get a drink, and find entertainment.

Comments

Charitable Events: October 2018

Our social calendar is jam-packed for the month of October! Which of these worthy causes will you support?

Comments