He was a member of the Hillcrest Honors Community at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, where he studied computer science, mathematics, philosophy, Russian language, and biology. He graduated magna cum laude in 2007 with a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science.
John achieved his black belt in Chung Do Kwan Tae Kwon Do, from Khan's Martial Arts Academy in Burke, Virginia, on December 3, 2005. He was an assistant instructor for the Tae Kwon Do Club at Virginia Tech from 2003 until 2007; among his students and colleagues in the Club were two of the victims of the tragedy of April 16th, Reema Samaha and Maxine Turner.
He is currently working on his Ph.D. at the Institute for Cellular and Molecular Biology at The University of Texas at Austin; he is supported financially by the National Science Foundation's Graduate Research Fellowship, and works in Edward Marcotte's lab. He was inducted into the Friar Society in Spring of 2011.
In his free time, John works on violence prevention and campus safety. In 2009, the Austin Chronicle awarded his organization -- Students for Gun-Free Schools in Texas -- with a Best of Austin Award: "Best way to keep guns off campus." In 2011, the Chronicle again gave his organization an award, and he was voted "Best Grassroots Activist." In the process, he has learned a great deal about state politics and the Texas Legislature, which he visits at least once a week during sessions. John is also an occasional Huffington Post contributor.