My fondest memory of schooldays in the United States in the 1970s and 80s was founding an environmental/animal rights group called Students Aware of the World, in my last year of secondary school. The idea was sparked by my increasing awareness of a host of global problems. We focused on educating fellow students about environmental as well as animal and human rights issues. There were also regular clean-up days at nearby parks and we started a recycling programme. We even got the school lunchroom to serve vegetarian meals although I wasn't even a vegetarian at the time. We also had an anti-fur campaign. It was a huge success with 10 per cent of the student population active members and around 120 people at the first meeting. I guess it also pointed me in the direction of my future. Looking back, it seems to me a lot of time was wasted in school. I went on to take classes that didn't relate to anything I do now. I went to four different elementary schools; two were public and two were private. I've terrible memories of one private Catholic school called St Michael's. I remember going home in tears every day for the three months I went there. It was very strict and I couldn't deal with it at seven years old. However I've fond memories of William Allen Academy, a non-religious private school, as it was in the middle of a national park. Also, it didn't have the rigid structure that St Michael's had. In the national park, there was what was claimed to be a 'model animal farm' with chickens, pigs, ducks and cows but even at only 11 years old, I hated it. While the farm was nothing like real factory farms, I always thought it just wasn't where animals should be. Another memory of that time was being teased badly because my mother was a nutritionist and always wanted me to eat healthily. Normal kids had cupcakes for their birthdays but I got a cracker and not the kind with chocolate or cinnamon. For lunch I'd have enriched wholegrain wheat bread with seeds or peanut butter that was just crushed peanuts and no sugar, and a banana. I was always the kid who no one ever wanted to trade any lunch item with. I'd have done anything for more mainstream food. I'm sure this has a lot to do with why, as an adult, I'm a food-loving, food-obsessed vegan. I don't remember what I liked in elementary school, but I hated physical education. I was always the last kid to be picked for any sport which was traumatic. My favourite teacher was Miss Warrick. I remember volunteering to be her test subject for whatever she was doing for her master's programme so I could spend the summer with her. I guess I had a crush on her. By the time I went to Northville High School in Michigan, I'd become good at tennis. When I became captain of the tennis team, I couldn't resist toying with the same people who didn't pick me for their PE teams. I'd run them all over court and then run them all over some more. At that place, I had a real soft spot for a teacher called Miss Rhody, with whom I kept in touch many years after I left secondary school. She was only four years older than me and was the sponsor of my activism group. She pushed me to think about animal suffering and vegetarianism in depth. I wasn't a naughty student, more like angry. I used to pick on the school administration a lot when they would refuse to put certain posters up or refuse to make certain announcements so I definitely created waves in the school. I went on to an expensive private school in Michigan called Kalamazoo College where I studied political science with minors in economics and environment studies but didn't get a lot out of the classes. However, as student council president I dealt with different people, especially government and school officials. So perhaps that was where I really received my education. During my junior year in college, I went to a shelter and got a beagle named Sugar, who lived with me for 14 years. It was the biggest mistake. I thought having a dog meant I had to feed and walk her and that's all I did. I left her all day in the house and I regret the first two years I had her. I always liked to travel, so my current job travelling for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the world's largest animal rights group, and helping animals is perfect. I started as an intern weeks out of college. I planned to stay a few months but got a Christmas job in the merchandise department and things developed from there. I've been with PETA now for 13 years. Opening its office in Hong Kong was something I'd dreamed of since first coming here in 1997 to take part in a fur protest outside Dolce and Gabbana at The Landmark. I have the best job because I get to teach people how they can live their lives helping animals. What can be more rewarding than that?