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A Custom Equation: Knot Theory, Dance, and a Summer Job


A couple of delayed flights gave Jackson Bedward ’21 plenty of airport time to kill as he made his way from Fort Worth, Texas, back to Hamilton College after a break.  Waiting for a connection in Philadelphia, another student in transit gave him a tip on just the type of summer job he'd been hoping for.

She’d had a summer teaching residency with Breakthrough Collaborative, a nonprofit that helps prepare students from underprivileged communities for college, and Bedward liked the sound of it.  Two interviews later, he was hired to work for Breakthrough this summer, in Austin, Texas. It’s hard to imagine a better fit for Bedward, a math and dance major who plans to become a math teacher.

At Breakthrough Bedward will teach either math or science, and on certain days he can teach a subject that is his personal passion. For him, that would be dance. After one dance class early on at Hamilton he’d found a second major.

 “You could say that the real connection between the two majors is the fact that there is no connection, because I really like to be able to think a lot in math courses, and then let go of that, and push myself in something that I can really enjoy,” Bedward says.

His favorite part of studying dance at Hamilton is the sense of community he found with other students, and he expects that dance will be always be a part of his life.

On top of math and dance, a third academic passion worked its way into his Hamilton experience. “I think the open curriculum here has really allowed me to expand into different places. I’ve also taken Korean for every semester I’ve been here, so if I had a lot of requirements in addition to both my majors, I don’t think I wouldn’t be able to graduate in four years,” Bedward says.

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