'I realized the importance of learning for the sake of learning'

Anthony Nguyen

Physics and Math
Cherry Hill, N.J.

What are the most valuable skills you gained from your Arts & Sciences education?

My A&S education taught me how to think abstractly, argue rigorously and appreciate the world around me. My classes taught me how to be a disciplined student and my research experience taught me how to think independently, how to ask good questions and how to collaborate with others. 

two people skydiving

What Cornell memory do you treasure the most?

A bit unusual, but the adrenaline from trying to solve a problem with a group of friends under the pressure of a fast-approaching deadline was one of my favorite feelings. We'd do the homework on the floor at the homework boxes, and one person was always on watch to alert us if the TA was coming so we could hand it in. Then after it's all over, everyone just gets an overwhelming sense of relief, we hang out and chat, get food and snacks. Brutally difficult classes were a great bonding experience. 

What have you accomplished as a Cornell student that you are most proud of?

man standing next to lake

I previously did research projects in quantum computing and condensed matter theory and am currently working on a research project at the intersection of geometric analysis and physics; more precisely we are studying minimal surfaces in hyperbolic space, which have applications to holography and quantum gravity. Through these projects, I learned a lot about exciting, new fields that are often not covered in undergraduate classes. These experiences shaped my decision to pursue further education in math, where I am interested in analysis and geometry. 

How have your beliefs or perspectives changed since you first arrived at Cornell? What have you discovered about yourself?

I realized the importance of learning for the sake of learning. When I came to Cornell, I just wanted to become an engineer in hopes of contributing to society in a positive way in the form of, say, working on medical technology or sustainable energy. I wanted to work on something with applications or tangible benefits. However, I then discovered fields here which have very rich and elegant structures, which are interesting in and of themselves even without application, and I just simply want to know more about them even if they cannot be applied to any of our current technologies. 


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