Sep 15, 2012

Personal Statement

By Afnan Imran

When I was seven, I accompanied my father to his textile mill for the very first time. He expected to fascinate me with the bales of gossamer silk and the array of colorful dye. My reaction was the complete opposite. I was lost in my father’s wonderland for it was alien to me. For me, the highlight of the day came when my father stopped by his accountant’s office to go over some figures. And I was in paradise. Numbers. The books in that office enthralled me; the neat rows of figures, the patterns and sequences of numbers and the simplicity of addition and subtraction.

I realized that my talents lie in an entirely different area than my family’s. Where they were content to live in an artistic mess, I needed the pieces of my life to fall into place like a giant puzzle. Logic was the tool I needed. Math became the air I breathed, the ground beneath my feet, the thread that tethered me to the world. Since my mind had been ingrained with textiles, this discovery, though liberating, kept me up late into the night with worry and fear. I was the only loose end, the only child who did not want to follow in my father’s footsteps. I was very much like the remainder in a long division sum.

My fears were put to rest when my parents encouraged me to participate in my first Math competition in elementary school. And my passion blossomed. The importance given to my achievements in Math, Economics and Accounting was equal to, if not more than, the importance given to my siblings’ successes in sociology and art. I remember announcing to my seventh grade class that math was the career for me, and a career it became.

My passion for the subject was reaffirmed when I met twelve-year-old Ahsan. Enrolled in the Society for Rehabilitation of Special Children, that little boy is the life of every room he enters, despite his learning disabilities and speech problems. As a volunteer, my task was to explore his strengths and teach him to use them. I discovered his knack for mental Math, and he taught me the correct way to specialize in the subject. Give him a word problem, and he remains speechless. Put him in a practical situation where he is required to add, subtract, divide and multiply, and he has a response in seconds. For him, Math is a way of life, not just a remote goal on a pedestal.

Math is in everything: it is in the distance between each planet, in the rate of population growth, in the time it takes me to travel to and from school each day. It is in economics. It is in physics. It is there waiting for me during every shopping spree at the mall. It is every shopkeeper’s companion, every businessman’s secret weapon, every scientist’s research tool. In Math, there is so much to explore, so much to learn, so much to question. I need a school that has a broad horizon for this field, one I can use in my own quest for reality and genuine questioning.


Reja Y said...

WOW. I've never liked Math, so reading this is very insightful.

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