I've long been associated with the sort of people who you might think would be familiar with go. My eighth grade math teacher was something of a renaissance man -- he was a gourmet chef and an experienced white-water canoer, he made his own telescopes (including grinding the lenses), he knew an extraordinary amount of botany and also (of course) math. But he didn't know go, or at least, he never introduced it to me if he did. I also was involved in MathCounts, and even went to the national competition twice -- surely among several hundred of the nerdiest math nerds in the country, some of them must have known about go. But alas, I never met them.
It wasn't until college that I even became aware of the game. I was first introduced to it in the summer of 2003 by my friend Eric Engler; from there I was further taught by math professors Tom Garrity and (especially) Satyan Devadoss. It's a shame that I didn't encounter the game any earlier, but I'm certainly glad I encountered it when I did!
I've never been into chess much. I tried at a few different points, but it never held my attention for very long. It's just too "messy", and seems to require way too much specialized knowledge before play becomes at all enjoyable or interesting. But go is something altogether different: elegant, beautiful, utterly simple yet fantastically complex. Even as a complete beginner I was powerfully drawn to its challenge and beauty.
At first, much of my experience came from watching others play, reading various go books, and even attending a winter-term class taught by Professor Devadoss. In the first year that I knew go, I probably didn't play more than one game a month on average (and most of those were against my friend Steve Winslow). But now that I have found the opportunity to play online (on DGS, as byorgey), my current goal is to let my actual game experience catch up to my theoretical knowledge -- of course, knowing a concept and using it in a game are completely different things! However, I'm happy to see that my theoretical knowledge has already gotten me to about 15k (although I'm still far from consistent). My long-term goal is to become at least an amateur 1d. Certainly attainable over my lifetime, I think. But really, it doesn't matter, since my true long-term goal is simply to play, appreciate, and be a student of go, the most beautiful game.