On Math Awards

On May 4th, I received an e-mail from Kent Morrison, the department chair, advertising the annual math department awards banquet. Here’s the relevant portion:

-$10.00 – Cal Poly Students
-$20.00 – All Others
-Free – Awardees

I wasn’t receiving an award, so if you know anything about me, you can guess my reaction: No Thanks! I don’t spend $10 on food in a week.

Four days later, I received an e-mail from Francesca Fairbrother, one of the math department staff, informing me that I’d received an award. Naturally, I assumed they’d figured out my situation. I wasn’t going to go unless it was free, so they made up an award for me. I haven’t done much here besides harassing people, so the other possibility seems unlikely.

I do have a bit of a history of receiving awards with no notice whatsoever. Upon graduating from Junior High, I received the “Most Studious” award. Back then, I watched TV somewhere around 8 hours per day. I did my homework during lunch or at the beginning of the class when it was due, if at all. And when you consider the fact that everybody who voted for me had to try to spell my name, you see that I had a lot of adversity to overcome.

I also received $100 from the Northwestern math department for adding a math major. Of course that’s not what actually happened, but that’s the way I tell it. The real award was “Outstanding Achievement in Mathematics by a Junior”, which presumably had something to do with my Putnam score.

Tinh, my officemate, also received an award. His position was rather different from mine, though. Evidently he had been contacted a few days earlier regarding personal information needed for a scholarship, so he thinks he got one. I caught him looking through the list of scholarships to see what he got, but I’m pretty sure you need to apply to get those. Either way, the scholarships pale in comparison to the real prize: free dinner.


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