In elementary school I wanted to be a teacher because it seemed fun to work with kids and help them the way my teachers helped me. When I got to high school I wanted to be a doctor because I watched Grey’s Anatomy and thought dissection was the coolest thing in the world; only I didn’t like biology class. Then I wanted to be an engineer because I liked chemistry and physics, but I didn’t love them enough to stay motivated. Finally when it came the time to apply to universities just over a year ago, I decided to apply to math programs.
I’ve always loved math, and I’m really lucky to have had teachers that taught me with enthusiasm and helped me enjoy it as much as I do. One reason I love math so much, that also helps me understand it, is that it never changes. As Cady Heron said in the film Mean Girls, “It’s the same in every country.” Math will never play tricks, or have an exception to a rule, or even change as the years go by. It’s an infinite system of complex relationships and everything is connected. An interesting debate is whether math was created or discovered by people, and I’m not sure which I believe.
Despite my interest in math, I wasn’t sure what I could do with my degree once I graduated. Teachers always try to motivate students by saying that math is all around us, but they never seem to give interesting examples. Computer programing is math based and enables us to create websites, smart phone applications, and social networks. When music programs recommend a song or artist, they compare your listening history to the listening history of others to find similarities, and that’s all based on math.
Right now I’m most interested in Actuarial Science, which is a branch of mathematics focused on statistics and risk management that is mostly used by insurance. This year was challenging for me in many ways. Last year I was worried about how I was going to pay for university. I was very fortunate to be supported by Girl Guides on both a national and provincial scale with scholarships. I’m also in the co-op program at the University Waterloo which will help me pay for school next year. I started my first work term two weeks ago at a health benefits company and I love the non-academic learning environment.
This year I was challenged academically in a way I had never been challenged before. I knew the transition from high school to university was going to be difficult, but I thought if I worked hard it wouldn’t be too bad. I soon realized that sometimes working the “right” way is more important than working for long periods of time. Being efficient is crucial when you have large amounts of information to absorb, and everyone has different techniques that work best for them. That being said, no one could possibly spend all their time studying; they’d go insane! This year I joined a few clubs and lead a Sparks group. I had a great time and even though I was stressed sometimes, I had a great year and I’m glad I continued doing the things I love and tried some new things as well. I can’t wait to go back next year!
By guest blogger Erin Edward. Erin recently completed her first year as a Spark leader while also attending her first year of university. She is studying mathematics and is a 2013 recipient of the Equitable Life Insurance Company of Canada Scholarship.
I just graduated this past June from the University of Calgary with my degree in Mathematics! It will be one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of your life – stick with it!
Learning how to work “right” is one of the most valuable lessons I learned and it will follow you into every other part of your life. Good luck!!
Good luck with your first year at University!