Nancy Vu '24
First math class at Swarthmore: Linear Algebra with Theory (MATH 028)
What was your favorite math class and why? MATH 67. It built upon the interest I already had in calculus and amplified it by showing me the foundations behind the calculus concepts I freely used in high school. It was the hardest math course I've taken at Swarthmore, but simultaneously the most worthwhile and exciting because I was able to understand everything after all the hours I struggled with the concepts and realize how complex but coherent (in other words, beautiful, fascinating) math is as a field of study.
Why did you become a math major? I became a math major because I want to bridge the natural sciences with social sciences and bring out the best both realms can offer to social change work, hence why I am double majoring in statistics and political sociology. I want to make math feel accessible and practical in the real world, breaking stereotypes about the kind of people in math and what they contribute to society. When I first came to Swarthmore, I was hesitant to pursue mathematics because I knew it would be challenging and could make me feel inadequate, but after meeting the people in the department at Swarthmore, my fears quickly went away with all the support and care I had. I also just find math really exciting and underrated and have been interested in learning more since AP Calculus in high school.
How do you expect to use your mathematics after leaving Swarthmore? I hope to use my statistics background for social justice work or for research to guide public policy/public initiatives.
What advice do you have for an incoming student? Don't let yourself be dissuaded by the limits of what you think you are capable of and pursue what excites you the most. When you feel lost, your passion and the help of those around you who can recognize your efforts will help you carry through. The Math department is great and everyone there truly wants to see you succeed and feel excited about math, so reach out and let them support you! It's their job, and it is what they want to do.