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Strong Collaborations and High Expectations

It seemed like all the math Jonah Boucher ’17 had learned so far came crashing together in his 300-level Real Analysis course, and that was a good thing.

“It felt like the first step into the real world of mathematics. And what was so surprising about it was a lot of it was late 18th-century, early 19th-century math. The Math Department sort of starts to feel like history once you get into the 300s and 400s, where you are working your way through the history of math. And even stuff that old is still mind-blowing,” says Boucher, who won three awards for outstanding academic performance his first year at Hamilton.

His other major is environmental studies, with a biology focus. He figures that with two strong majors in his pocket he will have lots of options, including grad school, after he graduates. Boucher spent the summer after his sophomore year doing research with a professor to analyze chemical and microbiological properties of a meromictic lake near Syracuse, N.Y.

One of the things Boucher likes about studying math at Hamilton is how professors encourage student collaboration and work closely with students. He says he’s in his professors’ offices at least three times a week, and students gather in nearby common space to wrestle with homework. The professors are expert at encouraging them to stretch academically, Boucher says.

"They are very good about giving you just enough of a push while also letting you struggle for an hour if that’s what you need to do. It’s kind of tough parenting – it feels like (they) let you fight your way through,” he says.

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