Remembering Beginnings

I’m working on writing up my math autobiography. It’s a significant task because the story spans so many years and different types of experiences, so it’s far from done. However, it meant that I noticed that this past week included the eight year and seven year anniversaries of two pretty big milestones in my academic development. I wanted to commemorate those here.

May 12, 2009: I found out that I was accepted to Canada/USA Mathcamp and immediately committed to going. I’m a very proud MC ’09, ’10 alum now. Mathcamp gave me a supportive and mathematical community as well as the opportunity to explore a wide range of math topics in great depth. Mathcamp 2010 is where I fell in love with graph theory, and that story ends in six papers. Also, Mathcamp is where I learned to contra dance. This clearly makes Mathcamp vital to my existence as we know it.

May 13, 2010: I found out that I was accepted to Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics and, again, immediately committed to going. OSSM gave me another community of people I still love and talk to frequently, and I was able to take a pretty ridiculous number of math and science courses. OSSM is why I have a solid background in physics (as much as I grumble about courses from the physics department now), why I had programming and computer science experience before college, why I’ve taken courses in organic chemistry and genetics, why I’ve studied category theory. I have conflicted feelings about my two years at OSSM, but it was the best place for me at the time, and I don’t regret the opportunities or community it gave me.

The OSSM acceptance wasn’t much of a surprise, though it was still very exciting. I’d been waiting for that day for six or more years. The Mathcamp acceptance really did shock me — I had nearly not completed the application — but now I can’t imagine a world in which I wasn’t a Mathcamper.

I’ve come a long way since both of these days, and my path would look very different without them. They were hardly the beginning of the journey, but each one was a beginning, and an important one. I’m really grateful for both places and communities and that I can still consider myself a part of them.

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