Finding Harmony in Numbers and Art: My Undergraduate Journey in the Amath Department

Submitted by Tony I Garcia on

By Ziyan Zhou

As a rising senior pursuing a double degree in Applied Mathematics and Art, my journey at UW has been an enriching and transformative experience. From the moment I entered college, I knew that I wanted to major in something math-related, driven by my passion for numbers and functions since high school. Throughout my freshman year which was fully online, I explored various classes across math, applied math, statistics, and computer science. While I found aspects I liked and disliked in each, it wasn’t until I took Amath383 that my interest in using math to solve real-life problems ignited. As I wasn't familiar with many of the biological and physical concepts discussed in class, I found myself investing more time behind the scenes before I could actually address the problems. This process, although initially frustrating, eventually became a source of reward as it led me to identify the field I want to be in.

This passion was further strengthened when taking Amath422 and Amath342 in my junior year. This led me to envision applying math and coding in interdisciplinary fields and practices. One memorable experience in Amath422 was that for the course project, we read a paper on Covid modeling, replicated the results, and modified the model. Though our changes were modest as undergrads, it was the moment that I felt I was applying math to something we can see. 

One question that seems almost like a formal greeting when meeting new people is "What's your major?" And frequently, the next question I receive is, “Omg that’s so cool, why this combination?”. As far as I know, I am the only one in the Amath department that has doubled in Art, although those two buildings are just across the street from each other. I have friends in the department who are double in CS, psychology, informatics, engineering…Sometimes in the tiredness of having to fit all courses into my schedule, I find myself questioning how my two seemingly disparate majors can complement each other and why I chose this path. My answer is that they have provided me with two distinct perspectives when looking at the world, it’s not about the degree of their connection, but about how they can help me as a whole. Art has become a sanctuary for creativity, while Amath honed my analytical mindset. Taking these diverse academic paths allowed me to meet remarkable people from all fields, enriching my social circle and broadening my horizons.

As senior year and the end of my undergraduate journey approaches, I've come to realize how fast the past three years have flown by. Due to my freshman year being online, I've dedicated the last two years to building relationships and relishing the campus experience. What I have learned in the department and throughout UW has provided me with a solid foundation for my next step in pursuing graduate school. I'm excited to continue my educational journey and delve deeper into my passions.


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