Ravi Jagadeesan, an 18-year-old from Naperville, Illinois, and a Center for Talent Development alumnus, has been selected as a 2014 Davidson Fellow Laureate by the Davidson Institute for Talent Development.
When we heard that Center for Talent Development alumnus Ravi Jagadeesan had been selected as a 2014 Davidson Fellow Laureate by the Davidson Institute for Talent Development, we reached out to congratulate him on his achievement and to find out more about his experiences.
Jagadeesan’s winning project, “A New Galois Invariant of Dessins d’Enfants,” provides greater understanding of the relationship between different mathematical structures. Having completed the project during high school at Phillips Exeter Academy, Jagadeesan says it feels great to have his accomplishments recognized. “The process was a lot of fun, too,” he adds.
That’s not to say it wasn’t also a lot of work. Jagadeesan can’t, in fact, quantify the amount of effort the project entailed. “It was always in the back of my head,” he says.
Jagadeesan’s introduction to in-depth study of a singular topic came from Center for Talent Development’s Summer Program. As an elementary student participant, he studied engineering one summer and epidemiology the next. “The Summer Program broadened my knowledge of science and helped me develop my thinking skills,” Jagadeesan says. “Those were the first times that I studied one subject intensely, which was different from going to school and doing a little bit of everything.”
It wasn’t until the summer after grade 9, however, that Jagadeesan realized his passion for mathematics. After attending the Mathematical Olympiad Summer Program and Canada/USA Math Camp, he was hooked.
Jagadeesan’s advice to students trying to choose a specialization is simple experimentation. “Try out one thing and see if it works,” he says. “If it doesn’t, try something else.”
Once students have discovered their passion, Jagadeesan advises them to stick with it. “Study what interests you even if you don’t initially understand it,” he says. Jagadeesan believes this idea served him well throughout his award-winning math project. “The background of this project was extremely difficult to learn, but I found it really interesting, so I kept working on it,” Jagadeesan explains. “There were a couple of moments when things just clicked. About four months into it, I was able to connect a bunch of ideas. Then again, about eight months in, I was able to understand how what I was doing connected to the work of others.”
While Jagadeesan espouses perseverance, he says it’s important to get away from work regularly, too. For fun, Jagadeesan plays piano and especially enjoys pieces from the Classical and Romantic time periods. “It’s a good mental break,” he says. “Playing piano requires me to use my mind a bit differently, and that’s very refreshing.”
CTD wishes Jagadeesan well in his first year at Harvard University, where he is pursuing a degree in mathematics and statistics!