I’m from the Bahamas, where I have a big, wonderful and supportive family. After high school there, I majored in math and history at Vassar College. Currently, I’m in the math PhD program at Wesleyan University under the direction of Dave Constantine.
While I was an undergrad, I tutored, ran recitations at Vassar, and taught summer school math at my old high school, all of which confirmed what I already knew: I love teaching math. I thought that research was something that I had to get out of the way to get a degree and teach a college math class. Turns out, I love doing math research as well.
I felt very isolated when I first got to Vassar, and again when I started out at Wesleyan. Both times, finding some kind of community around myself has been a major part of any success that I’ve had. I’m so much better at everything I do when I can recreate the feeling of community that I had around me when I was at home. In doing so, I’ve found friends I’m still in almost constant contact with from Vassar, and a collection of friends and mentors while I’m in grad school that have supported me along the way.
Find people who make you feel like you have a community around you, whatever that means to you. If you can’t find it in your department, look elsewhere. Sometimes it takes a while, but having that support is like nothing else.