Name: Hemant Mehta.
Where I live: Naperville, Ill.
Where and when I was born: Just outside of Chicago, 1983.
Education: University of Illinois-Chicago, 2004, double major in math/biology; DePaul University, 2010, master’s in math education; national board-certified teacher, 2012.
Occupation: High school math teacher.
How I got where I am today: After leaving medical school in order to become a teacher, I had some free time and began working closely with the Secular Student Alliance and also started my website, FriendlyAtheist.com. Both of those experiences have helped me develop into an activist, and I hope to keep improving on that in a variety of ways!
Where I’m headed: Thankfully, not downward.
Person in history I admire: It’s always inspiring to hear about those who challenge the status quo to make things better for various minority groups. I’ve been fortunate to meet a number of atheists who have done sort of consciousness-raising in our own movement.
A quotation I like: “If you want to get something done, ask a busy person.”
These are a few of my favorite things: My students, great books, crossword puzzles, “The Daily Show,” Twitter.
These are not: People whose sole purpose in life is to put other people down.
My doubts about religion started: When I started high school. It turned out my parents’ religion (Jainism) couldn’t withstand tougher scrutiny.
Instead of “thank God” or “God bless you,” I say: Gesundheit.
Why I’m a freethinker: It’s empowering when you know the truth about something the majority of the country is completely wrong about.
Ways I promote freethought: I blog at FriendlyAtheist.com to spread news and stories about atheism. I am a board member for the Foundation Beyond Belief and work to encourage other atheists to give money to secular charities.
I serve on the Advisory Board of the Secular Student Alliance because they focus on helping young atheists. To promote my ideas, I’ve written a few books, the most recent of which is called The Young Atheist’s Survival Guide.