Mathematics (MSci) Personal Statement
Submitted by Milo
In my mathematical career to date, I have always pushed myself and thrive on new challenges. As such, I took the FSMQ additional maths in year 11 and am teaching myself AS further additional and the AEA in my year out. Working independently, I find I am always eager to learn more. This is the key reason I look to study maths at university, not because it's what I'm best at, but because I genuinely love doing it.
A level study expanded my mathematical horizons from matrix algebra and complex numbers to hypothesis testing and probability distributions. So far, proof by induction is the topic which absorbed me most. The concept that something can be 'proven' true for all cases is especially engaging and powerful; I can't wait to improve my skills in this field. In my spare time, I have begun working on STEP papers. Studying more advanced topics and being able to answer deeper questions is very rewarding.
A maths degree will always deliver this kind of challenge which is an exciting prospect for me. Studying chemistry fed my love for problem-solving. Topics like spectroscopy and synthesis built on the skill set gained in maths; gathering information and using it to find the solution to a problem. My favourite were problems requiring analysis of multiple graphs and spectrograms to be collated to achieve the final answer. The influence maths had on my thinking and, ultimately my ability to problem solve, was an important factor in my gaining a silver in the Chemistry Olympiad. Maths gave me the confidence to think logically and analytically and enabled me to persevere with difficult problems, knowing a solution would come. As a mathematician, this helped me take a step back from complex problems and approach them using potentially riskier, less obvious strategies.
Studying biology also allowed me to appreciate the importance of maths in making sense of data and thus allowing progress in research. Biomedical research is responsible for improving and saving lives through medical and public health interventions, many of which could not have been developed without the framework of understanding provided by mathematicians. Health economics research, clinical trials and epidemiology rely heavily on maths to provide reliable evidence to guide clinicians and policymakers. My natural curiosity led me to seek out many extracurricular events, including a problem-solving day where I was introduced to modular arithmetic and its applications in cryptography. Working in groups, we were required to present our findings to the wider audience, a presentation in which I took the lead. Explaining unfamiliar maths to strangers was very gratifying and I relished the way people's questions deepened my understanding.
Attending an Oxford conference on personalised medicine and the Earth Optimism Day in Cambridge showed me how central maths is to many disciplines. From statistical testing of evidence to mathematical modelling of climate change and population epidemiology; maths is everywhere. This convinced me further that it was the right degree for me. I have developed excellent interpersonal skills through volunteering in schools in the UK, India, and southern Germany, overcoming language barriers to communicate effectively.
I am currently a mentor to A2 further maths students and was mentor to AS students last year; teaching is entirely different to learning and has deepened my understanding. Being part of my local swimming club for over a decade taught me the value of commitment and teamwork, as has over 2 years working in cafes and as PA to a senior academic. For the first time (having earned enough!), I have an opportunity to travel independently and will visit China, Japan and Vietnam in 2018. Oriental cultures have always fascinated me: how ancient traditions coexist in such technologically advanced societies. Experiencing such different ways of life will undoubtedly prepare me better to embrace everything university life has to offer.