(Above: Snoopy in the MSP airport where I spent a while on Sunday chilling before my flight)
I wrote this post Sunday night on the plane. I am working on recovering/sleeping after the long month of math, and I am really happy to be back in my time zone, back in New England, and back in my hometown where we have lots of hills and way to many cul-de-sacs and roundabouts:
It is hard to believe this month is actually over, but at the same time I know I have met so many fantastic people and learned so much (math and otherwise), and have done more than I would think is possible in four weeks! I am ready to go home, and I am looking forward to having some time to myself, but SMP was a great experience for me. I think it was exactly what I needed at this point in my math life.
At our end of the program banquet last night, one of the program directors, Steve, said two things that stuck with me:
1) He told us we are all “professional mathematicians” now.
We were paid to do math for the month, so we should start to think of ourselves as mathematicians. Beginning ones, yes, but mathematicians nonetheless.
I thought it was really cool that he said that. On the math/maths podcast I listen to, I recently heard a discussion surrounding the question: “At what point in your career did you begin to think of yourself as a mathematician?” The consensus I garnered from that podcast conversation was that many people have a bizarrely difficult time taking “mathematician” as part of their identity– even some individuals who have published math research papers!
I don’t know if I actually feel “like a mathematician,” whatever that might mean, but all of us SMP students have been granted the choice to claim that identity if we want, which feels really good.
2) He emphasized again that if we want to stay, there is a place for all of us in the math world.
The types of mathematical careers and areas of study are hugely diverse, and there is a niche for us no matter our personality or interest. And particularly, no matter what there is a place for us in the SMP family.
Before I came to SMP I already felt like I had a “math family” in the community at my home college. I felt so lucky to have “math moms” (one of whom just came to visit us at SMP this past week! It made me so happy to see you, have dinner, listen to your lecture, and re-experience the egg trick) and “math dads” in my professors, as well as “math sisters” in my peers.
But SMP has made my math family grow exponentially, and for that I am so, so thankful. :)
My month at SMP was not easy. It was exhausting and trying and crazy hectic and sometimes overwhelming and a TON of work. And it was well worth it.
P.S.–The “math is hard” barbie, just because it came up in conversation multiple times at SMP and I want to post its photo on my blog somewhere. Just because: