So much of math is about numbers. Let's go over some numbers.
More than 75,000 high school students in the United States registered to partake in the 2017 Mathematical Association of America American Mathematics Competitions.
After two rounds of competitions, less than 1 percent advanced to the third and final round.
Following hours of effort and initiative on his part, not to mention ability, Wilbraham & Monson Academy's SooYoung "Harry" Park '18 is remarkably among that tiny percentage.
Harry was one of just 285 students of that original 75,000 to advance to the USA Mathematics Olympiad, which is the final round of the AMC. Harry will compete against the brightest math minds in the country April 19-20 in a grueling nine-hour test.
"It was a long journey from the summer," Harry said. "When we first started the math team at WMA, I didn't expect this. But we all worked together, and (Math Department Chair) Mr. (Mark) Fischer encouraged me a lot. I think that's why I got a good result."
Harry learned he scored high enough on AMC's second round, the American Invitational Mathematics Competition, April 4. He took the three-hour exam on March 22, still jetlagged from returning to WMA from spring break.
"I had no idea how I did because the questions were really hard," Harry admitted. "Part of me believed I would qualify and part of me believed I wouldn't. I didn't know how many questions I got right. I was confident I got six or seven questions, but I wasn't confident about two or three."
"Harry is a really bright student and he takes his skills and abilities to their fullest," Mr. Fischer said. "He's prepared and he worked hard to prepare for the AMC and round two of the AIME, and it's paid off."
Harry, along with JiYeon "Jane" Jang '18, started a math club at WMA this school year. The group of 20-25 students met Monday nights, with Harry and Jane providing challenging math problems in order to prepare for the AMC.
"Harry looks for these opportunities and pursues them and gets other people involved," Mr. Fischer explained. "He's been instrumental in our math team. At the beginning of the year he asked if we could make the math team an official club and we made that happen. They do a great job. They prepared every week and give handouts to students. It's a student-run club."
Harry's persistence this school year actually stemmed from him not doing well on the AMC in 2016.
"I tried the AMC but didn't get a great result," Harry said. "But I wanted to do well so I tried to figure out how I could do well at this competition. That triggered me and I really liked it. Now, I think of it as becoming my career. I want to pursue math in college and my future career."