Jakob Hansen, 17, has a self-described dichotomous personality.
He likes to study science, math and other quantitative subjects. Yet he spends much of his time singing with a jazz and madrigal choir.
He plans to study economics at Arizona State University this fall, although he’s not sure exactly what career he’d like to pursue. He’s considered becoming an actuary or an analyst for the Federal Reserve.
In what free time he has, he enjoys piano lessons, contemporary classical music and learning everything he can about 1970s Hewlett-Packard calculators.
“They’re well designed and well made,” he said. “My dad had one and I liked using it, but I lost it. It was the first calculator to fit in the shirt pocket.”
The highlight of Hansen’s time at Red Mountain High School in Mesa was being a member of its academic decathlon team. He spent three years on the team and set a state record this year for total points earned — 9,252.9 — in a single match. He said he set a goal for himself based on the previous record.
“I said, 'I can beat this score,’ ” he said. “You wouldn’t think studying for a multiple-choice test is fun, but it is fun to come up with new ways of learning the information.”
During the academic decathlon season, Hansen said he didn’t do much of anything aside from studying. But after it ended this spring, he spent time rediscovering his favorite pastimes and learning about new things that interest him, such as reading about politics and philosophy. Lately, he’s been particularly interested in learning about libertarianism, although he’s been curious about the subject since he was much younger.
“I remember asking my dad once why there was a law that said we had to wear seat belts,” he said.
Hansen is somewhat relieved that he won’t turn 18 in time to vote in the upcoming presidential election, because he doesn’t think he supports any of the candidates.
“I guess I’d end up voting for (Sen. John) McCain out of Arizona-ness,” he said. “I guess it would be a decision about throwing my vote away or picking the lesser of two evils.”