Vivian Kuperberg: 'Math is filled with fantastic results, tricks and beautiful ways of looking at the world.'

Thu, 04/27/2017

Vivian Kuperberg


Davis, CA

What is your main extracurricular activity--why is it important to you?

I'm president of the Undergraduate Math Club. Having a good community surrounding what I'm studying is really valuable to me. Math is filled with these fantastic results and tricks and beautiful ways of looking at the world, and it's always more fun to share that with other people. I've worked on getting people engaged in math at Cornell in different ways, and seeing the results has just been great. We've had everything from first- or second-years giving their first talks (and doing a great job) to people baking super "mathy" desserts in a bake-off to students sending follow-up messages about the math puzzles of the week. I'm always happy that I get to be a part of it.

What accomplishments/activities are you most proud of while at Cornell?

I've invested a lot of time and energy into research projects, and I'm definitely pleased with how they've turned out. I've tried to improve the community in many different small ways. For example, I'm happy with the regular activities I've started in Math Club, like a weekly talk series, and with other smaller things, like persuading my chemistry lab to stock small gloves that would fit the women in the class. And then, I'm proud of the role I've taken as a community member — I think I've done a good job of encouraging, advising and supporting other math majors, just as they've done for me.

If you were to offer advice to an incoming first year student, what would you say?

Take weirder classes. There's a dangerous tendency to restrict oneself to classes that are directly related to specific career paths, and to ignore whatever else might be out there. But there are strange and interesting classes at this school. It's worth spending the extra time scrolling through the course roster to find them. There's going to be *some* class that fills that distribution requirement with material that you're going to legitimately enjoy and get excited about. Chances are it's not the first class you'd think to take, and it's definitely not going to be the class that takes minimal time and effort. But that class is going to make you happier, and it's what this school is designed to provide. The same advice can be applied to clubs, books, internships, housing, etc., etc.