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Randall Johanningsmeier '24

 Randall Johanningsmeier

First math class at Swarthmore:  My first math class at Swarthmore was Linear Algebra, which I took with Thomas Hunter.

What was your favorite math class and why?  My favorite math class so far has been Number Theory, which was taught by Cathy Hsu. Professor Hsu helped me to feel like I really belonged in her class, which I haven't often felt in math courses. I loved getting back to the basics (the positive integers) and experimenting with how they interact with one another. Now, when I can't fall asleep at night, my trick is to count upward from 2 and factor each number into its prime factors! It's much more fun than counting sheep...

Why did you become a math major?  To be honest, I became a math major because I had some math credits from high school and thought I might as well be a math minor...and then that quickly turned into thinking I might as well take two more courses and become a math major. There have definitely been times when I didn't know if a math major was the right fit for me, but now, as a senior, I am glad I ended up majoring in this department.

How do you expect to use your mathematics after leaving Swarthmore?  I don't have any specific career plans involving mathematics, though I am interested in possibly teaching someday. Mostly, I know that learning math at Swarthmore has changed the way I think and learn. It is the logical and organizational skills I've learned in my math courses that will serve me well in whatever I end up doing after graduation.

What advice do you have for an incoming student?  If you didn't like your traditional calculus class, try taking a more abstract course like Modern Algebra, Number Theory, or even Real Analysis before you make a judgement about math as a whole. Some people (myself included) are just more suited to the abstract ideas that are taught in those courses.