The fundamental nature of mathematics is using logic and creativity to solve problems. This is what I find so incredibly addictive. For me, learning about new mathematical concepts is really exciting, and I take simple pleasure in understanding mathematical proofs as I think this is where the true beauty of maths lies. How one variable can be derived from others in a plausible argument and can mathematically be proven to exist is the most thought-provoking part for me.
I love the direct links to real-life that I have experienced – a trip to Bletchley Park and the inspiring story of code breakers who were all able mathematicians – involvement in the RIBI Technology Tournament, showing me how to apply theoretical problem solving techniques to practical issues, and just how many different solutions there were – the Coca Cola Real Business Challenge where as CEO of my school’s team, I led them to second place in the SW Regional Final and learnt how to work as a team to meet the brief, work under time pressure, think intuitively and present the solutions to 150 people. In 2015, I also had the opportunity to attend a Salter’s Chemistry Camp at the University of Bath, where I saw how mathematics is the foundation of modern technology and innovation and how it is used specifically in the pharmaceutical industry to mass-produce drugs vital to world health challenges. I also saw very different aspects of maths when taking part in JP Morgan’s work experience programme where I found myself inspired by the functioning of a large international investment bank. Here everywhere I looked there was a new way of using mathematics and every process was absolutely vital to the organisation.
In terms of my studies, I wasn’t sure at the beginning of sixth form what I wanted to do in the future, so I did a range of subjects to keep my options open. It wasn't until beginning to study more complex areas of mathematics in depth at A-Level that I realised just how much of a passion I had for the subject. However by this stage of the academic year it was too late to change to study Further Maths so at the end of the first year I moved colleges to enable me to complete my A-Levels in Mathematics & Chemistry, and take all Further Mathematics in a year. Although this is a challenge, it is one I am very willing to undertake, and studying Further Maths has only reaffirmed my decision to take maths at degree level.
Recently I have been introduced to complex numbers and I found it amazing that equations that I have previously considered unsolvable may have solutions. Not only that, but I derive great satisfaction from resolving complex issues, and developing plausible arguments from initially intimidating problems, as in mechanics where we are often required to apply a number of different formulae in order to find specific unknowns. These real life applications of maths are something I find truly inspiring as they show how maths is used in everyday life, and by demonstrating problems in a universal language, allow us to develop a much greater understanding of the issues in a way that no other subject can.
Outside of academia, I spend a lot of time improving my fitness as I find this both rewarding and motivating. I train twice a week at taekwondo and I am hoping to achieve my black belt soon. This is something I have been working towards for a while and I dedicate a lot of time and effort to it. Not only is it something I really enjoy, but it has taught me a lot about myself and the 5 tenets of taekwondo (courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control and indomitable spirit) are things I try to apply to everyday situations. In addition, I am an avid gym user - mostly to support my taekwondo - but also for my general health and well-being as I believe it is important to maintain a good work-life balance.
Mathematics has taught me a lot about character and has significantly aided my self-development. I think a good mathematician is one with an inquisitive and open-mind but a relentless spirit to discover, as it is often important to be able to perceive a problem from more than one angle, but also vital not to give up when the solution doesn’t come first time. I am eagerly anticipating the challenge of degree level maths and strongly believe it will only validate my hypothesis.
...(download the rest of the essay above)