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Growing in Math… Perhaps Exponentially

Roller sits and works on his math homework.

What? Why? How?

Those are the reactions that senior William Roller has received many times when he reveals his love and passion for math. Some may think that is insane, not caring for math whatsoever. But Roller wants to use math in his future.

No, not just for paying taxes.

Roller strives to use his skills and interest in math at the Illinois Institute of Technology, planning to major in either Applied Mathematics or Applied Physics. He aspires to either become a mathematician or an engineer, and is looking for opportunities to job shadow.

Most of his family used math in their career, and Roller is following in their footsteps. But his passion for math is not forced upon him, instead it is his own thing. His family encourages him to do what he loves, whatever it is, and that just so happens to be math.

His interest in math started fairly early in his life.

“I started to really like math in fourth grade just because I was really good at it and I really wanted to learn more about it,” Roller said. “That was me just liking it, but I started loving it in high school. I [eventually] joined math team and it was very challenging, but I like puzzles and challenging things.”

Remember those timed worksheets with 100 problems in elementary school math class? Roller does, as it was when the interest first sparked.

“I was the first kid to get all 100 right. I was like, ‘Wow I should keep learning this, this is awesome.’ ”

This year, his is taking two math classes: Multi-variable Calculus and AP Statistics. Though the classes may get hard at times, he is still determined and committed.

Roller sits and works on his math homework.
Roller sits and works on his math homework.

Deciding to partake in the math team in high school helped him continue to learn it and love it. When he was on the team, he would research the hard problems he would stumble across while most other kids would get it wrong and move on. At a math team pizza party, he was voted the most tenacious of the group, because of his persistence in trying to understand the difficult problems.

He is one of the very few people who can say that math has treated them well. He is always excited to be able to work on what he loves.

“With other students, most of them use math to go into their specific field,” Roller said. “But I go with the pure math, where I study the math itself because I want to learn more about it.”

Many people ask Roller to help them solve problems, and it makes him excited and feel better about himself. He loves seeing people want to do well on a problem and understand math, instead of giving up and chicken-scratching under the difficult problem.

He does understand, though, that math can be tough for some, and that many people have different preferences.

“To [people] that hate math, I can’t really blame them,” Roller said. “All I can say is to not give it up completely, because it is – in my opinion – a really beautiful thing. But do what you love. And math is what I love.”

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Emily Kindl, Author

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