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|Photo: Lauren Lark|
Although traveling to perform night after night had its thrills, living out of a suitcase and waking up in an endless string of hotel rooms had become more stressful than fulfilling. Brophy and his wife decided that when he got home, they were going to pack their belongings and head west to Seattle in search of a new life.
A combination of family ties, artistic culture, and a budding tech industry led them to the Emerald City. Brophy picked up a barista job to pay the bills while he researched his next move. Shortly thereafter, he landed a temporary gig as an apprentice in the electrical union, which sparked a passion for math. While most kids were learning about STEM in high school, Brophy was skipping class to play music. Eventually, he found that he was fascinated by electrical circuits, algebra, and trigonometry.
Brophy started to think that he might actually make a decent math teacher. He was energized by the thought of trying to inspire other kids who were uninterested in solving complex equations in high school.
“I thought it would be powerful if I could share my story with students,” Brophy says.The problem was, he had dropped out of high school to pursue music; if he wanted to teach, he’d have to go back to school.
Brophy and his wife had since had their first child and had to work full-time in the restaurant industry and enrolled in a full load of night classes at a local community college. A few years in, however, he’d become frustrated by the lack of time he had to spend with his wife and young daughter—and he was still years away from earning his degree.
“When it dawned on me that I had two or three years of school left before I could stop working every moment of my life,” said Brophy. “I realized there had to be a better way to get the education I was looking for.”At this point in early 2016, the technology boom occurring in Silicon Valley had spread to cities like Austin, Denver, and Seattle. Brophy had a couple friends who were software developers and, in talking with them, realized that his newfound interest in math might also apply to coding.