What leadership roles or volunteer experiences have been important to you during your time at Maryland?
I have some volunteer experiences in the food recovery network. The work it does is different for every event, but its general theme is to reduce food waste and deliever usable leftover food to people in need. First, I was very surprised that there are a lot of people in need, along with a lot of food waste. I thought, "if UMD wastes this much food, then how about the entire U.S.?," and I realized that saving food is a really important matter. The second thing I am impressed with is that there are lots of student volunteers. To me, helping others for no personal merit was considered wasting my effort, but there are people who are willing to help others regardless of merits. This fact made me little bit embarrassed, and now I know that we helping others does not need any merits.
How will you make a positive difference in the world?
Things change everyday; no thing lasts forever. However, some last longer than others, and if I pick one of those, I would say "knowledge." Humans have accumulated knowledge for a long time, and have delivered through many media; drawings in caves, monuments, and books are all examples of humans' knowledge. It is not so surprising that we still learn ancient knowledge in school -- geometry by Euclide is at least 2000 years old, Newton's physics is several hundreds years old, and so on. We all know that knowledge generally bring about positive differences in the world. And, I will bring about positive change in the world with my knowledge. As a math major, I will find some interesting mathematical facts which can change the world (for instance, think how quantum mechanics changed the worldview and initiated much research).
What is your major, minor, class and graduation year?
My major is mathematics, and I expect to graduate in the spring of 2017 (one year early). But, if things do not go as planned, I will graduate in the spring of 2018 with my fellow students. I do not have a minor, but I am interested in chemistry (there is not a chemistry minor at UMD, though), and computer science. Currently, I am taking three math courses and two general education courses.
What is your Hometown?
My hometown is Seoul, in South Korea. I was born in Seoul and spent 17 years there. In February 2012, my family immigrated to Maryland.
Tell us about your favorite class, extracurricular activity, academic opportunity, community involvement or another unique experience.
There is a math competition for college students, usually called Putnam. There are only 12 questions (6 questions, 2 sets) with each problem worth 10 points, and the exam is 6 hours long. Surprisingly, the median score is usually 0 or 1. Students who are good at math all around the United States challenge Putnam, but sadly, at least half of them do not score a single point. As a math major, my natural duty is to challenge Putnam, and in my freshman year, I scored 12 points -- my professor said that my rank was ~1000.5 (I still don't understand how .5 rank makes sense). I was rather disapointed, because I thought my math was really good. But apparently, there always exist people better than you, and Putnam imprinted this fact on my brain.
My other challenge was College Puzzle Challenge (CPC), hosted by Microsoft. As the name suggests, students need to solve fun puzzles as a team of 4 people. This event is 12 hours long, and there are about 25 puzzles. Some puzzles are rather easy, but others are so hard that any clue can't be found. But, solving enigmatic puzzles sheds new light on my knowledge, so it was very intellectually interesting event. My team did not win, though.
I challenged Putnam for the second time already, and I am wating for the result now. I am also going to participate in CPC soon. Hopefully, I can make better results this year.