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My Time as a Math Major: Looking Back

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Graphic shows a calculator, an economic scale graph, and notes jotted down next to a headshot of former student Gin Wang

​Jingibang (Gin) Wang graduated from the University of Delaware in 2016.

​Editor's Note: This story originally appeared in the Summer 2020 issue of Reckonings, the UD Department of Mathematical Sciences newsletter.

Jingibang (Gin) Wang was a student in the Mathematics and Economics program at Delaware, graduating in 2016. His summer research experience was with Pak-Wing Fok. He went on to receive a Master of Science degree in Applied Analytics at Columbia University and then later joined Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, Inc., an investment bank in New York City. 

I came to the United States by myself for college when I was 19. As a foreign national and non-native English speaker, college life wasn't easy at the beginning - living in a foreign country alone fresh out of high school, I had to overcome many challenges such 

as the language barrier and culture shock. I was blessed to have my adviser, Paul Sulzer, and the friends I met from my dorm floor who helped me with starting a completely new life. There were certain times I felt very depressed (e.g. feeling out-of-place culturally, encountering random discrimination, or struggling to balance work and fun). What I learned from those hard times was that: 

  1. You can't really change other people's perception of you, and what other people think really doesn't matter.
  2. You have to do what you have to do and make the best out of it.

I'd call the two lessons I learned from the hardships of my freshmen year confidence and ambition. These two traits prepared me for my life and work the most. Then I started exploring different possibilities in UD - besides my academics (I graduated Cum Laude and was awarded the Carl Rees Scholarship in Mathematics), I had a part-time job as a teaching assistant for the computer science department, volunteered as a Chinese language tutor, joined a fraternity, co-founded a student activity club, owned a start-up business, worked as a summer researcher, studied a second foreign language, etc. I tried many things, and not only I found what I love, but these experiences also shaped who I am today. I was surprised to realize there were so many resources I could use at UD, and there were countless opportunities for me to explore and grow. UD is sometimes perceived as a party school, but my advice to new Blue Hens is this: life beyond parties and comfort zones is spectacular! 

The research experience at the University of Delaware was simply incredible. As an undergrad student researcher, first things first, I learned many new things. It helped me realize which direction I would want to go: academia or industry? It was a fun academic experience, but its focus on real-life scenarios got me really interested in industry problems. Second, I got to sharpen my mind tackling problems related to real life.I can't really speak on behalf of those who are in academics and research, but from an industry standpoint, and from my internship and work experience in investment banking and venture capital, it is important to have a "framework" to solve a problem or make a decision, otherwise you will be lost; the research experience definitely helped me shape my "framework." This framework or thinking process helped me analyze more thoroughly and rationally during my internship and in the workplace, which made me stand out. And the research was the first time I got to manage a workflow independently - I learned new things, implemented and processedwhat I learned, and delivered what I learned.

Working very independently is an ability gained from training and experience, not a talent. I have always loved building things, and this research experience reinforced this – my mentor and I built something from scratch. This research experience also includes the relationship between a mentor and a mentee that I rarely found somewhere else. I hope that we will continue to stay friends.

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Alumni Gin Wang shares how he adjusted and thrived as a UD Blue Hen studying Mathematics and Economics.
8/9/2020
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