Wunderkid who got CF.C off ground is all-Ivy

YOU CAN TAKE THE kid out of Cougar Country, but you can't take Cougar Country out of the kid. When CF.C was launched 10 years ago this month, it was done so with the critical aid of 13-year-old wiz kid Dustin Cho of Lake Forrest Park. Wunderkind then. Today, he's a newly minted Yale grad who's heading to Harvard Law School. But one thing hasn't change. His heart is still colored crimson.

"Of course I still root for the Cougs," he said recently from a summer fellowship in Washington, D.C., when asked if his allegiances have changed over the years.

If memory serves, we paid Dustin a whopping $150 to build the infrastructure for Cougfan 1.0. He didn't want any pay -– it was all for the crimson cause, after all -- but we insisted.

That sense of service and philanthropy hasn't left Dustin. He's funny, hard working and beyond bright, but more than anything he has a real sense of community. He's always involved. His dad has little doubt public service of some kind will be Dustin's ultimate calling.

Of the people who helped get Cougfan.com off the ground 10 years ago, Dustin is perhaps most memorable. For starters, he was about 25 years younger than the rest of us. And then there was the little matter of brain power. The guy's a genius.

He graduated from Shorecrest High with a 4.0 GPA and registered a PERFECT score on his SATs. From there it was Yale, where he joined the staff of the school newspaper and eventually became its managing editor. He was also chairman of the Yale chapter of the ACLU.

This past spring he graduated magna cum laude with bachelor's AND master's degrees in political science. All done in four years.

"I really loved Yale's political science department, which has some amazing professors who are studying very interesting issues ranging from civil wars to the formation of national identity to the role of field experiments in social science," he said "I focused on American elections and representation, and wrote my thesis on voter turnout experiments I conducted."

Now it's off to Harvard Law, where he'll at least be back in familiar color territory: crimson.


NOW: Dustin looks at his Yale diploma on graduation day this spring.

Dustin's crimson roots -- the Wazzu kind, that is -- go deep. His mom and dad are both WSU graduates. His cousin, Steven Schaaf, was a walk-on linebacker on WSU's 1998 Rose Bowl team. And his grandpa, Ray Schaaf, played for the Cougs in the 1940s. In fact, he was a member of legendary Cougar coach Babe Hollingbery's final recruiting class at WSU.

And get a load of this crimson factoid about Dustin: In middle school, he went two full school years wearing strictly Cougar-logo shirts.

As for the future, Dustin's looking at all the possibilities.

"My career aspirations are wide open," he says. "I don't know enough about different areas of legal practice to know which I enjoy more, so it's hard for me to say what I'll end up doing. I know I'm interested in public policy, as well as civil liberties issues, but there are a lot of other legal fields I know nothing about, and I don't want to neglect them prematurely!"

The guess here is that when we're writing up CF.C's 25th anniversary observance, we'll find that our one-time teen techno-wiz is the youngest member of the U.S. Supreme Court.

ONWARD CRIMSON SOLDIER!

RELATED COVERAGE:

* KEY COUG PLAYERS HELPED SHAPE OUR DECADE: THE ROLL-CALL OF AWARDS

* BIRTH OF CF.C TEN YEARS AGO WAS IN THE GENES

* PICTURES PAINT A THOUSAND WORDS: COUGAR FOOTBALL THROUGH THE LENS


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