First-year Math Major Admitted to Selective Research Program

Elisa Rodriguez ’22 has been accepted to the Carnegie Mellon Summer Undergraduate Applied Mathematics Institute (SUAMI) for 2019.

SUAMI offers undergraduate students who are considering future careers in the mathematical sciences to get a taste of the graduate experience. The participants’ eight-week long stay in Pittsburgh includes a course in applied mathematics that features coursework with the difficulty catered to undergraduate experience, but at a graduate school level of intensity.

Rodriguez received the good news of her acceptance in a unique way. On a crowded bus winding its way through the roads of Ireland on its way to the Cliffs of Moher, the first-year Ursinus student found that she could finally access Wi-Fi on her spring break trip.

She logged into her email account to find a very welcome surprise: the acceptance letter. But what might make the whole experience even more unique is that SUAMI isn’t typically open to first-year students. Word of the Carnegie Mellon research program surfaced from a research colleague of Anisah Nu’Man, an assistant professor of math and computer science who teaches Rodriguez in a calculus class.

With Nu’Man’s encouragement, Rodriguez jumped at her chance to apply to the prestigious program. She says that the research experience will help her narrow her focus beyond a basic love of math.

“Math is difficult for me,” she says, candidly. “It’s not something that just comes easy. I’m hoping this Carnegie Mellon opportunity will broaden my horizons and help me better appreciate the impact of math on the world.”

Looking beyond the Carnegie Mellon program, Rodriguez is excited to complete her math major alongside a French major at Ursinus. With a study abroad trip to Strasbourg, France, in her near future, Rodriguez took the initiative to reach out and see if she could continue her math studies while away.

Her goal, eventually working toward a doctoral degree, is to be able to complete math research and a math internship with a final paper in French about her experience before she graduates from Ursinus. —By Mary Lobo ’15