-“There Is Nothing in Mathematics” – CRUTECH’s Young Mathematician-
Against the backdrop of popular perception of mathematics as a difficult subject by several students in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions of learning in Nigeria, Celestine Usani Butum, a student of Mathematics and Statistics Department at the Cross River University of Technology (CRUTECH), has stated that “there is nothing in mathematics”.
Celestine stated this yesterday in an informal interaction with us when we engaged him in a chat, after spotting his pint-size and baby-face looks that seem uncommon among undergraduates of Nigerian universities. Although we were already on our way out of campus when we met him, we recalled that since good news reports arise from unusual persons and incidents, Celestine’s “under aged” looks may serve as good news if he agrees to speak with us.
Thankfully, he gave us listening ears. That was how we found out that although Celestine looks less than the minimum age of 16 required for writing University Matriculation Examination (UME), he proudly claims that he is 18 years old. We also found out that he is a native of Ugep, headquarters of Yakurr Local Government Area in Cross River State. Celestine schooled at Community Secondary School, Ugep, before gaining admission into CRUTECH where he is in his first year.
However, it turned out that Celestine justifies the perception of those of us who consider mathematics as too “stiff”. Despite our deployment of interviewing techniques to make him speak freely with us, this young mathematician kept giving very crisp answers to our questions. It seemed as if he has a formula for answering questions.
His longest answer to all our questions on his personality and course of study was this: “Mathematics is not like other subjects. In mathematics, as far as you know the formula, you know it. If it is other subjects, today somebody would say something, but tomorrow, he would change it. But mathematics doesn’t change.” Maybe that was why he never said more than a word or two, lest his answers “change”.
After a long, awkward period of silence from him that was interspersed by our attempts to hear what his lecturers and classmates say about his relatively small size, we were able to prompt him to add just these additional words when we asked why he chose to study Mathematics:
“My choice of course was Computer Science. But they gave me Mathematics. As far as I am there, I would learn…. There is nothing difficult in the course. But people feel that because it is mathematics and statistics, something difficult is in it. But it is not difficult.”
We consider this as a good example of the saying that “determination is success”. We wish him success in his chosen career and enjoin other students of CRUTECH to emulate his determined example.
Report by: Duke, Valentina Bassey, Ironbar, Blessing Orok and Theresa Njar
Year 2 Students of Department of Mass Communication
Cross River University of Technology (CRUTECH)
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