Jessica and other student researchers

Geometry in July

Every year at the start of the spring semester, I start to hear my peers talk about their plans for summer jobs and internships. Some will already have their internship or research positions locked in. And every year I think, “Is it time to start applying to summer internships already? It’s barely even spring!” I’ll admit, I’m not one to plan for the future, but after two summers of leisure and unfruitful retail jobs, I was determined to make this summer worthwhile.

Last year one of my professors suggested I look into REUs (Research Experience for Undergraduates). REUs are programs funded by the National Science Foundation that take place all over the country and involve research in several different fields. I have been considering going to grad school for mathematics and participation in an REU would give me a chance to experience what research in math would be like. I had applied to a couple REU sites last year, but was not offered a position, so I decided to apply again this year.

Even with my resolve to get a summer position, I was down to the wire in my application process. The first step was going to the offices of my math professors and asking for letters of recommendation. One of my favorite things about Arcadia is that the small classroom sizes allow me to get to know my professors. My professors know me well enough to write personal letters of recommendation and are invested enough in my future and success to do so on short notice.

I wrote, and edited, and rewrote cover letters and sent in my applications to a few programs with little time to spare. I didn’t get my hopes up, because I hadn’t been accepted to any of the programs last year. But to my delight I was offered two positions within a week of finishing my applications. As soon as I got my acceptance emails, I went to let my professors know, and they were just as excited as I was.

So this summer I will spending eight weeks at Fairfield University in Connecticut doing mathematics research on the topic of hyperbolic orbifolds. I’m not quite sure what that means yet, but I am excited to expand my knowledge beyond the courses offered here at Arcadia and to move one step closer to my future.