Kitrick Fynaardt ’21
Alton, Iowa
Kitrick Fynaardt

Strength in numbers

A double major in math and computer science, Kitrick hopes to attend graduate school and eventually work at a college or university where he can both teach math and conduct his own research. He serves as a math tutor and speech coach and is on NWC's Overwatch esports team. In addition, he's had roles in Northwestern theatre productions and is a member of the Black V improv team.


A defined love of math

I chose math because it's a language of patterns. It doesn't fully explain the patterns found in nature, art and technology, but it gives us "words" we can use to talk about them. In geometry, for example, abstract concepts like “distance,” “value” and “magnitude” are given codified meaning. In calculus, the infinite can be condensed into the finite. There is nothing quite so satisfying as watching a whiteboard as abstraction is transformed, layer by layer, into a set of symbols that we can understand. Mathematics is a discipline where there are always solutions to problems. That's powerful, and that's why I love studying it.

Calculated approach to the future

I enjoy learning and teaching, so graduate school is probably in my future. As Isaac Newton said, “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” This phrase is particularly applicable to mathematics: It takes many years of study and schooling before you can even begin working on the cutting edge of new math, and that's where I aspire to be someday. It's a dream of mine to one day look at a finished problem and realize I know something that no one else in the world knows. To that end, I want to research pure mathematics. Often the chance to do research comes with a teaching position, and I have been a math tutor for almost six years, so teaching is something I'm familiar with and enjoy. A college-level teaching job with time to do my own research is my current vision for the future.

Proof of faith

There is nothing quite so challenging as realizing you are wrong, and in math, you are going to be wrong a lot of the time. More often than not, incorrect solutions come from an incorrect approach to the problem. An incorrect approach arises from incorrect assumptions. When beginning a mathematical proof, I must think through what I am doing and how I'm going to do it, or I risk an incorrect assumption. Studying math has helped me to approach my faith in a similar way. I cannot hope to know or gain any truth about God and God’s creation if I have incorrect assumptions. Through studying math I have also learned to explore and question my initial assumptions about God and Christ to see what new paths to spiritual truth might be open to me.

Additional support

Members of the math department at Northwestern are always there to help. It is full of passionate people who want each student to not just learn, but understand. The math professors are quick to remind us that math is challenging, and we shouldn’t expect to get off easy. But when things get difficult, don’t give up and certainly don’t try to go it alone. Our professors remind us to look left and right, where we'll find classmates who are in the same boat and eager to help.

Values

Northwestern is full of genuine people because the ethos of campus encourages everyone to get out there and just be yourself. I love that. In Hospers Hall we have a saying, "You belong simply because you exist." That's true in Hospers, and it's true at Northwestern.

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