Let me introduce myself. I am a student here at Mines, and floating amidst my many passions surface two that will relate to you: Mathematics and Humanity.
You can call me Ada. My real name doesn’t much matter.
We work hard here at Mines, and in some ways this mantra has become our identity. But this hard work and this praise have always been given with respect to our academics and applied to our academic success. What some people don’t recognize, what we ourselves may have a hard time recognizing, is that we work hard in many ways. Yes, we work hard to get our homework done, to wake up for our 8am labs, to keep our eyes peeled open in our afternoon lectures. But we also work hard to bring a friend a cup of his favourite coffee in the morning, to drive 3 hours to surprise our little sister on her birthday, to smile and say “thank you” when someone holds the door open for us. We work hard to be compassionate when the guy we like tells us he’s not interested, when our friend tells us he has depression. We work hard to understand and grasp what’s happening in our twenty-something brains all the time. The effort and hard work that we put into our academics is easily matched, if not surpassed, by that which we put into our personal and social spheres, but we don’t prioritize and regard this hard work in the same way.
The hard work we put into our academics here is made easier through the support of our peers. We form study groups and join professional societies and share the burden of our work. But the importance we place on our academics is often prioritized over the personal struggles we experience. This leads to a sense of discomfort associated with seeking personal support and in sharing our adversities with those around us. We don’t ask for help, and trudge through them alone.
I want to trudge through them with you.
I said earlier that I was passionate about Mathematics and Humanity. Let me be more specific and explain how it relates to you. I am passionate about the art and beauty of human connection. I’m passionate about the power in human connection and the impact it has on our lives. I’m passionate about exercising my agency in this impact and helping others find their agency in it as well.
Mathematics inspires me for the exact same reasons. My favourite moments in experiencing mathematics have been when I’ve thought about it in terms of my own world: when I daydream about modeling the spread of a rumor as we do the spread of a disease; when I study for a linear algebra test by assigning mathematical structures to social dynamics; or when I relate mathematical vocabulary to its colloquial usage. I am not only awestruck when I am able to see mathematics and its ideas in the world around me, but I am flooded with a sense of understanding, as well. Amidst the creativity and imagination of mathematics is also an absence of the nuance and ambiguity that is ever-present in human interactions. If I am able to understand mathematics, and mathematics explains my world, then I am able to understand my world through mathematics.
So over the course of this semester, I urge you to write in with your problems. Tell me what is bothering you. Is there a girl in your Chemistry lab that makes your heart skip? Is your mom bugging you about an internship? Do you want to drop out? What is keeping you from believing in yourself? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or find an anonymous form at bit.do/dear-ada. Share your adversities with me and I will give you thoughtful, sound, and genuine advice based on the truths I’ve learned in mathematics. Perhaps you need to approximate your situation with a Fourier Series, maybe it can be solved with the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus, or will be easily remedied using Group Theory.
You’ve been solving math’s problems your whole life. Now’s your chance to let math solve some of yours.