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“Quick, help us out! Have you done the first bonus question yet?”
There are five minutes left in the GAME Candy Bar Contest. I turn the problem sheet over; the question is on…probability. I groan. Probability has always been my white rabbit; I take a deep breath and read the problem.
Wait…I have seen this question before. I did the same kind of problem in my probability course as a math major at Governor’s Honors. I shout, “Guys, I know how to do this one! Hold on one second!”
“The winner of the Candy Bar Contest is Norcross High School. Congratulations!” The math meet is over, and once again we have won. Today I return with a personal sense of victory; I have successfully answered a question that I would usually find challenging. I breathe a sigh of joy.
Math always presents itself as both a challenge and an adventure. I remember my first accelerated math course. I lived in China then, and I was in first grade. My teacher picked a group of five students from a class of 40 to take an extra class after school three days a week. Before we began the lesson on those days, we always did a timed practice of 25 math problems. I loved the adrenaline rush of always being the first to complete all 25 correctly. That experience instilled in me an admiration of the subject early on and guaranteed my pursuit of this interest.
Mathematics requires the student to build a structural knowledge base not only by understanding the information, but also by applying previous theorems to prove newly-learned principles. I find math captivating because I can employ deductive reasoning to continually add to my body of learned mathematical topics, and because it is an active process that involves both logical and abstract thinking. Algebra has always been my favorite topic: there is a sense of completion inherent in simplifying a multivariable problem to find a succinct solution. The personal satisfaction of solving a complicated problem after days of mind-wrenching toil is a reward unparalleled. At the Governor’s Honors Program this summer, my teachers introduced me to facets of mathematics that opened my eyes. A mathematician from California spoke to us about the applications of math in game shows. One instructor lectured on Demented Dimensions, another on Game Theory. I learned programming and completed a research project on other possible values for the number p in spherical and parabolic geometry. Because of its dynamic complexities and pragmatic simplicity, mathematics entails more than just numbers. I now view it as a guideline of how the world functions.
In its applicability to other subjects, mathematics is unique. I am still astounded at the frequency with which I encounter math in my AP Biology, AP Chemistry, and IB Physics classes. Even in my economics course, I used math to study trends and to construct graphs. My decision to major in economics is based on the fact that I can incorporate both the social sciences and mathematics in one.
Since a young age I have wanted to enter the medical field. Emergency medicine is especially intriguing in the fact that no other specialty requires such extensive knowledge of every part of the human body. I am awed by the amount of learning and skill an ER doctor must own in order to help patients. Having worked as a volunteer with kids and the elderly at a nursing home, I love interacting with people of all ages. There must be a great deal of satisfaction to be found in studying a concentration that will make a difference in other people’s lives; to help other human beings in times of need is the ultimate contribution to society.
“Julie…ER’s on!” I race downstairs, abandoning my English paper to watch my favorite TV show. While I watch, I can almost feel myself there…
“He’s gone into cardiac arrest. Ready the defibrillator.”
The electric shock courses through the patient’s body, and suddenly the rhythmic beating of his heart can be heard once again. The electrocardiogram reads 65 beats per minute and displays the pulsing waves of his heartbeat on the screen next to the bed. I breathe a sigh of relief. Another battle has been won.
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