“I ended up working in human services for a while but I realized that with my skills, it wasn’t the right fit,” Blank said.
That’s why the freshman headed back to class, majoring in SUNY Broome’s new Mathematics degree program. Ultimately, the Corning-area native hopes to transfer into Binghamton University’s engineering program.
“Having a really strong foundation in math will put me in a better place,” he said.
It’s been a decade since Blank earned a bachelor’s degree at Simmons College, and he made sure to start his first semester off right – with differential equations, the most difficult class he has faced to date. An ultra-marathoner who runs barefoot, he enjoys challenges and isn’t adverse to a hard slog. (His longest finished race was 50 kilometers, a little more than 31 miles.)
“In general, it’s been a pretty exciting semester to see the things I’m learning. My physics lab is my favorite class,” he said.
He describes himself as a conceptual learner, eager to see the big picture and how all the different components are connected. It’s a mindset that will serve him well not only in mathematics, but in related fields such as engineering.
Beyond transferring to Binghamton University, his options are open and he has a wide range of interests. One early contender was biomedical engineering, but now Blank finds himself intrigued by computational biology, which applies mathematical models to the study of biological systems. It’s a fascinating field and has been used for a wide range of researching purposes, including sequencing the human genome.
Why does math appeal to Blank?
“It’s in everything else in the world,” he explained. “Even if the problem is really messy and tangled up, there is at least clear, agreed upon, mathematical language to describe it with. I think it is the precision of math that is actually most appealing, and soothing, to me.”