A Math Affair to Remember
José Franco loves math but it won't break his heart if others don't. "One day, I was tutoring in a math lab and one of the students said, ‘I hate math,'" he reminisces. "I said to her, ‘Please don't say that; that is what I love the most in my life and what I do for a living'."
This love drove Jose across a continent from Guatemala to the Baylor Math program, to a school and environment for which he had no barometer. "I expected to find a competitive (even harsh) environment," he admits. "But instead, I found partnership and encouragement, which makes my everyday duties really enjoyable."
Graduate Math Studies
The graduate math program, which is research-driven, offers graduate work leading to a Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy in mathematics. The coursework involves a variety of areas including algebra, differential equations, dynamical systems and mathematical physics.
Jose's area of interest is research in mathematical analysis, for which, as a first year doctorate student, he didn't expect to find many opportunities or support. "Surprisingly, I have already received a research problem in complex analysis," he says. "There is a sense of teamwork that makes studying at Baylor really pleasant and encouraging."
In addition, he finds the faculty and staff to be a particular strength, which is unlike some of his previous experiences. "Earlier in my academic life, I faced a lot of discouragement when asking questions in class," he explains. "But here, professors are always encouraging you to ask questions and will guide you to find your own answer anytime; the posted office hours are just a formality."
The Waco Community
When not crunching numbers, Jose takes opportunities to dive into the local culture, which includes a 100-mile bicycle ride he completed last year. "At every rest stop, kids would offer to hold my bike while others would give me sports drinks, fruit and towels," he says. "This was a great example of the kindness of people in this town."
Jose has plans to teach and do research after he completes his degree, and he is already recruiting others who share his love. "I have already recommended the program to one of my undergraduate classmates in Guatemala," he beams. "He applied to the program and was accepted this year."