When two first-year students from the ANU Mathematical Science Institute (MSI) talk about maths, their love for the subject shines through.
Both of the young mathematicians received relocation grants of $1000 from MSI to assist them in coming to Canberra and getting settled. The grants were funded by gifts to MSI in response to donation appeals in 2016 and 2017.
Arabella Davies is from Sydney. “Maths was my favourite subject at school, so entering the program at ANU has been a great opportunity to express my passions.”
Maths did not always come easily to Arabella, but she persisted. “In year 7, I was always in the core class. I was never amazing at maths. But then I worked really hard at it because I enjoyed it. I ended up being in the top maths class and coming first in the year, which is a great achievement.”
She goes on, “I have a bit of envy that it comes naturally to some people. I suppose it did come more naturally to me once I’d worked hard, once I understood the basics. Then I understood the concepts a lot more easily.”
Chuang Xu moved to Perth from China in 2013. He says “For me, the reason why I love maths is complicated, and can’t be explained. But I think I became interested in maths since year 10 without any outside stimulus, just suddenly loved it.” Like Arabella, Chuang’s interest and talent led him to being the top student in his high school mathematics courses.
The relocation grant has helped both students.
Chuang explains “The relocation grant has been helpful for me because the textbooks here are very expensive. It gives me some purchasing power on buying the textbooks.”
He continues, “The grant didn’t affect my choice of going to ANU, simply because ANU has the pure maths degree compared to other universities. No matter what happened I would still have gone to ANU for this degree. It’s my only choice since ANU is the best Australian university in mathematics.”
Arabella says, “The grant was a big encouragement to come to ANU and do the course. Especially during the first semester it allowed me to settle in without a job and focus on my studies. I’ve never lived away from home before, so it was challenging to move away from home and my family. But the grant has allowed me to become independent and not ask my parents for money. Everyone is really nice and I’ve settled in well.”
Arabella will be 20 years old when she finishes the three-year program. She isn’t certain about her plans, but may pursue graduate work in medicine or in biology research related to mathematics.
Chuang says “I haven’t even thought about what I can do with maths when I graduate, but it all doesn’t matter to me. I enjoy doing maths and I only want to live for today.”