Stephen Clare

Rogers ‘11

What are you currently doing professionally?
I’m a researcher at a charity called Founders Pledge - a community of entrepreneurs who have pledged to give away a portion of their wealth. I evaluate different causes and charities to figure out where their donations can have the most impact.
What achievement(s) are you most proud of?
I’ve loved working in different countries. I did my graduate research on forest conservation in rural Panama, and after that worked for the U.N. in Rwanda. Collecting the data for my thesis in areas without electricity, internet, or plumbing has helped me appreciate the little things in life (like toilet paper).
How do you define success?
Building a life that fulfils my values.
What motivates you to get out of bed every morning?
I’ve been heavily influenced by a movement called “effective altruism”. It’s a community of people trying to use reason and evidence to do as much good as possible with their careers and resources. While our world is full of injustice, we have many, many opportunities to improve it!
What was the last new thing you tried?
Sadly the strict London lockdowns have limited opportunities for novelty. The best, and maybe only, new thing I’ve tried lately has been Eritrean food (it’s delicious!).
Specific skill(s) you developed at Brentwood that you use to this day?
Other than good study habits, of course, I learned how to serve overhand in Mrs. McLean’s tennis class and have been dominant on the court ever since.
Favourite Brentwood Teacher(s):
Mr. Snow, my chemistry teacher and houseparent, was especially important to me.
Why?
He was a principled and conscientious role model who helped me gain a tremendous amount of self-confidence.
Do you have a favorite quote or mantra?
My friend David once wrote an essay called “If you’re good, you need to talk more”. The gist is that cautious, open-minded people are more likely to self-censor, which allows overconfident people to dominate conversations. Reasonable people need to speak up more!
If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
Humans naturally think on short timelines, implicitly “discounting” future costs and benefits. As a result, we disastrously ignore the welfare of future generations (there’s a terrific book about this called The Precipice). If I could change anything I would cautiously lower the strength of this discount rate.
What’s next for you?
For now, I’m working on a project about how we can facilitate international cooperation between countries to reduce the risk of future global catastrophes. But as soon as we can travel again, I’ll be hopping on a plane to somewhere with hot weather and spicy food.
One piece of advice for current Brentwood students?
Unfortunately, from the advisee’s perspective good and bad advice usually look the same! One thing I try to remember is to stay focused on what truly matters to you.

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