Words of Wisdom from the Whisperer: Student Chat with Anthony Ding

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Hello Students, it’s your neighborly friendly Whisperer again from Areteem Institute! I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving Day break. The holidays are now upon us and it’s a good time to think back and reflect on the previous year, including looking at some of the achievements of our students.

In the fall, we had the pleasure of interviewing a very bright sprig of a youth named Anthony Ding. Anthony is in middle school and has been attending classes with us over the past year. He is quite active, having competed in many mathematics competitions, plays sports and musical instruments, loves math and science and even enjoys writing on occasion! We decided to spend a little time to talk with him about his accomplishments and asked him to offer some helpful advice to his peers.

An interview was conducted between Anthony and Areteem Institute’s Student Advisor, who had much to say about Anthony:

“He is a spark plug. He knows what he’s talking about. He’s obviously very intelligent and has a lot to say about everything. This student is definitely a go-getter and loves to explore. He loves Physics. From my conversations with him, I can say he is a well-rounded interview.”

Enjoy the intimate interview that follows. I think we can learn a lot from this bright young man.

Student Advisor: What sort of preparation did you do before competing in MathCounts?

Anthony: Well, I basically relied on the AOPS books, which is helpful. I did a lot of practice and relied on Dr. Wang’s classes. Although Dr. Wang’s classes are AIME level, they help with MathCounts. They also helped with my Math skills.

Student Advisor: How was your experience in MathCounts and what other Math competitions are you planning to participate this school year?

Anthony: MathCounts was great. It’s a great place where I got to communicate with other people who enjoyed math. I got to compare answers with other students, see what each one of us did, which really helped too. Even after the competition, I built relationships with them. We ate lunch and had fun together. I even got to meet kids from other schools, cities, and make friends with people I’ve never known before like the south Bay Area. My friends come from everywhere now.

Student Advisor: Are you participating in AMC 8? How are you preparing for it?

Anthony: I just want to keeping on learning new material. Learning new material is more helpful. I practice certain times and currently learning with Dr. Wang’s guidance.

Student Advisor: How did your school, friends and parents react to your MathCounts achievement?

Anthony: My school is okay with it. I worked hard for it. My friends and family were shocked. They didn’t expect it. Now, they believe that anything is possible if you work hard. I got in State and later worked hard to try to get into Nationals. I see students better than me before but now I know if I work hard everything is possible. Learning and working hard is more important than being smart.

Student Advisor: What’s the best thing about the online classes you’ve been taking with us for so long?  What do you love about it? Who is your favorite instructor and why?

Anthony: Dr. Wang’s consideration for the thinking process. Other classes always generally think about the answers other than the process. Dr. Wang always says in his classes, “I don’t care about the answers, what’s important is the process”. The classes really helped develop my thinking process, even in our homework. He cares more about how you write the whole solution rather than the answers. I’m happy I came across a teacher who cares.

Student Advisor: What are your Extra-curricular activities?

Anthony: I am part of the Science School Team. We participate in competitions and right now we are trying to get to Nationals. The competition is part of the Department of Energy. The competition has all subjects of Science like Physics, Chemistry, Biology, General Science, Energy, etc. For the National Science poll, our team has been practicing really hard. Regionals will happen in March. Last year our team did it and we did good. I am confident that we are getting much better this year.

Student Advisor: What do you prefer? Math or Science?

Anthony: Both. Math and Science are very different though they may seem related. Math is more of developing interest for the problems. When I solve a problem, I feel like I learn much more. Science is good but it’s more about experiments rather than figuring out a problem. Science brings out your creativity. In Science, there are so many fields to explore and you just keep on finding out what’s out there. Math is the same in a way. I really like both. Can’t say which one I like more. I do love Physics, which is a combination of Science and Math.

Student Advisor: What organizations are you part of?

Anthony: I’m part of the school band. Our school band is very good and it’s the top in the nation in the middle school division. I play the trumpet. I’ve been playing trumpet for 3 – 4 years. I also play the piano.

Student Advisor: Is there a relationship between students who play piano and students who are good in Math? Do you agree that pianists are great Mathematicians?

Anthony: It’s often said that kids who are good in piano are good in math. I can say there is a direct correlation between the two and there are similarities. Each note is a rhythm. In piano, you have two hands and you look at the notes, the staff, at the same time. You have to think about the steps. You have to be alert not to miss a note. Same thing goes in Math. You have to think about the process and you have to be alert not to miss a step. Piano is very youthful and makes you more imaginative. You have to use your brain, you have to think.  I can say it also helps math. Math allows you to think outside of the box. Math allows you to think about how to solve problems that you think you don’t know how to solve. If you don’t play piano but still good at math that’s great! I encourage kids who don’t play piano to delve a little deeper in mathematics and see what they find.

Student Advisor: Can you tell me some of your recent and current accomplishments at school?

Anthony: In Math when I was in 6th grade, I qualified for AIME. During my 1st AMC 10 competition, I got 84 which is a bad score. I worked really hard and got 126 on the second. For us, that’s a big deal. I represented how hard I worked for months.

Student Advisor: How did you react when you got a not-so favorable score?

Anthony: I really felt down to be honest. But that just made me work harder. I obviously made some mistakes but I worked on getting rid of those mistakes. It was a good learning experience. What’s important is, I now know how and what areas to fix.

Student Advisor: What change did you make since then?

Anthony: It’s basically careless mistakes. I often go too fast and not check out all my stats. I often skip over something and made mistakes on that. Dr. Wang’s class really helped. As I’ve mentioned, the thinking process he taught us really helped mend my careless mistakes. It’s just the way he makes us think about the solution that made a big difference.

Student Advisor: What university do you want to attend and what major do you want to take?  What profession do you want to pursue?

Anthony: I haven’t really thought about it that much. But I like Stanford. It’s close. They have a really good campus. I took a course with them before. I was also there during the Math League competition. While I was there, I could see a lot of people that were creative. A lot of great leaders came from Stanford. As for the major, I don’t know yet, but I prefer something in Computer Science or Physics. These are very interesting topics. There is too much to learn and too much to think about. Also, my dad’s major is Physics.  My dad is smiling right now. I don’t want to follow in his footsteps, I want to learn from him but not be like him. As for a profession, I want something related to a Computer Science field or be like a leader in some business.

Student Advisor: Since you mentioned about being a leader in some business, have you ever thought about being an entrepreneur?

Anthony: Yes. You see, I’m in the debate team. I like debate a lot. I like to debate about things. I like to know other people’s viewpoints. Entrepreneurship is a lot of that. Being an entrepreneur is being able to see what other people have to say, like listen to your employees or feedback from customers. A great leader listens to people. If I start a business, I want to be the type of boss that listens to what his employees have to say. A good leader doesn’t just follow himself. He must be open to what other people say.

Student Advisor: What are your aspirations for the future?

Anthony: I want to explore a lot of things that haven’t been explored right now. I feel that’s very interesting. I’m not talking about just physically exploring but also mentally. For example in Math, I want to explore math problems, complex problems. I want to explore a lot of things and I want to be creative. I want to be in a field where I feel confident and would allow me to think about things. Think about WHY.  Explore what everything is about. It’s more of a scientific thing when you want to do more. But I know I want to be good in the field I’m in and I want to keep on making discoveries. Discoveries also help the good and humankind.

Student Advisor: What’s a normal day for Anthony Ding?

Anthony: I get up really early to go to band practice. After school, I finish my homework as quick as possible.  Then I do extra-curricular activities. As you know I’m engaged in a lot of extra-curricular activities. I play tennis which is my favorite sport. I also enjoy writing. There are times when a single teacher gives out lots of assignments in one day. Sometimes it’s difficult to manage but you have to have focus.

Student Advisor: What type of writing do you do?

Anthony: I love novel writing. Stories. I like making my own stories. Shorts stories, books, etc.

Student Advisor: Have you entered any writing competitions?

Anthony: I believe pouring my thoughts in writing is better than experiencing any competitions. My stories have been published in our school paper.  Writing is more of a hobby for me.

Student Advisor: What is your advice for kids who wish to succeed in Math competitions?

Anthony: This may sound very cliché, but believe in yourself and work hard. Don’t think you can get and do better because you’re smart. You have to work for it. You have to feel confident. Believe that you can do this. If you ask yourself if you can qualify for AIME and you say yes, then that propels you to do it.

Thanks everyone! Tune in next time for some more information on education and some upcoming holiday writings! 

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