Mathematical Autobiography

**Disclaimer: I originally used this work for a previous assignment for one of my classes, MA 4213 at Mississippi State University. I have already been given a final grade for this assignment and I think it would be super fun to share this story of mine with whomever wants to read it. I know there are some obscure plagiarism rules out there. So to be safe, and avoid plagiarizing myself (the fact that you can actually do this is absolutely absurd to me) the I’ve put the whole thing in quotations and saying that I said it at the end. 😉

”     My first ever memory of mathematics is one that I actually do not remember myself. It is story told to me by my mother on a couple of occasions, a story of me as a three-year-old boy. The story is short but shows my love for problem solving and puzzles from a very young age. During my third Christmas of existence my mother, brother, and I were at home in the den. She elected to go ahead and put together a Christmas tree stand my father had bought a few days earlier. As she pulled out all the pieces, she could not figure out how to put them all together and screw them in place. She got very frustrated, yelling under her breath at the tree stand and saying, “Where’s your father the engineer when I need him!” Having given up, she marched into the kitchen to begin cooking dinner, leaving the tree stand pieces scattered in the den. A little while later, three-year-old me walked into the kitchen and, with a huge grin on my face, announced, “Finished!” My mom had no idea what I was talking about, so she asked. I then pointed into the den. She walked into the den and sitting on the floor was the finished Christmas tree stand. She smiled, shook her head and with gleefully tearful eyes she hugged me, whispering, “It looks like we have another engineer in the family.” That is my first remembrance of my love for problem solving.

As I grew from a baby to a boy, I became more and more enthralled by puzzles, shapes, Legos, numbers, and everything in between. Lego structures, Rubik’s Cubes, puzzle pieces all filled the floor of the room my brother and I shared. I excelled in my math classes. My other classes were not far behind, but math was easy for me. I was always the first to finish those timed multiplication and division pages filled with problems.

I continued to excel until I was held at bay, only for a time, in Pre-Algebra. My parents had my siblings and I change schools. Although I understood the material very quickly, I would have to take Pre-Algebra again in the seventh grade, but this time it would be an accelerated honors class. Finally, I had challenge.

I continued throughout junior high and high school loving math and continuing to collect my puzzles, cubes and Legos. I took Geometry in ninth grade, Algebra II in the tenth grade, and Trigonometry in the eleventh grade, learning and enjoying every second. In those classes I had absolutely wonderful teachers who taught me how math truly is an everyday thing and how it relates to real life, not just the classroom. I was then ultimately sold when I took Calculus my senior year with the same teacher I had in Trigonometry, Coach Mark Landry. These teachers, especially Coach Landry, showed me over and over again how beautiful math really was, and I will forever be grateful.

My senior year I decided on going to college at Mississippi State University. I had no idea what degree I was going to get, but little did I know, God would shortly remind me where my passions lay. Yet, instead of waiting, I searched long and hard for a major that seemed exciting and challenging freshman year at State. I eventually landed on biomedical engineering and declared that my second semester. I could solve problems and make bionic arms like in Star Wars, right? That would be so cool! Wrong. The first semester of my sophomore year I took Biology 1. It was so boring. Memorizing facts, photosynthesis, cells, osmosis, etc. are wonderful, but did not interest me at all. I dropped the class and realized I would have to change my major again. After thinking through options and what I enjoyed as well as consulting with my friends, family, and my math professor grandmother, I changed my major to a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics. I finally remembered where my passion was. It was in the numbers. It was in the puzzles and patterns.

In the last two years, I have never regretted this decision. Not even once. Though, until recently, I had no idea what I would even use it for regarding my career. I had thought about teaching like my favorite high school teachers, impacting the lives of young students and possible mathematicians. Ultimately though, that idea never panned out because fighting the public school system would be an unending challenge that I did not yet want to fight. I finally rested in the fact that I would eventually find my place if I continued on the path the Lord had set for me, but for now I was just majoring in something that I loved, something that intrigued me and stimulated my mind.

During Christmas break of the 2014-15 school year, my senior year at Mississippi State, I was urged by my mother and father to look into the Masters of Science in Analytics program at Louisiana State University, tour the facilities, and meet with the professors. As soon as I walked into the building and shook Dr. Joni Shreve’s hand, I knew this was where I needed to be. I fell in love with it. Solving problems, looking for patterns in massive amounts of data using statistical methods, math, and computers? Yes. I knew that was exactly what I wanted to do; I had been doing it since before I could walk, just with significantly fewer and simpler data points. So starting in June 2015, I will be attending Louisiana State University pursuing a Master’s of Science in Analytics, all the while continuing to use numbers. Lord willing, I will be privileged enough to continue to do so for a very long time…     ”     -Jayson Curry

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