Some SCHS students challenge themselves by taking part in math competitions

Three SCHS students have chosen math as their career pathway and challenge themselves with the subject. They have taken another step in their mathematics journey by participating in competitions.

Sophomores Vamsi Atmuri, Nithila Poongovan and Akul Vohra take part in numerous math competitions. The most popular of them are the Global Math Challenge and the Bay Area Mathematical Olympiad. Poongovan believes that it is a beneficial way for her to work on math problems she struggles with.

“I love struggling to solve a problem as it empowers me and motivates me,” Poongovan said.

Atmuri started participating in math competitions in the sixth grade because he wanted to do more with the subject than what was taught at school.

“I got into it because I thought that math and school just weren’t challenging enough,” Atmuri said. “Especially in like elementary and middle school.”

Similarly, Poongovan also started at a young age. She uncovered her passion for math after being encouraged by her father, and it began to grow when she started to take part in the competitions.

“I have always looked up to my dad, who was nationally ranking in the top few for math olympiads growing up,” Poongovan said. “As a result, my dad has always encouraged me to take interest in the subject.”

Vohra took part in his first competition when he was 14. Since then, he takes any opportunity to compete. According to Vohra, each math competition is different.

“You can do an online one like USACO. It’s longer and more time to solve the problem, but if it’s like AMC, it’s timed and you don’t have that many resources,” Vohra said.

According to Atmuri, preparation is key for the competitions. Once he signs up for a specific contest, he completes online practice tests to get a general idea of the problems he will solve.

Poongovan, Vohra and Atmuri have strengthened their passion for mathematics through the competitions. They all hope to pursue math-related careers.

“I’m probably going to pursue a STEM-related career and I’m part of the STEM program, so we’re pretty much pushed into and motivated to do these math-related activities,” Atmuri said.

According to Poongovan, students who find enjoyment in math are able to grow with the subject in and outside of school by entering competitions. Atmuri said teachers at SCHS have encouraged him to do more.

“I feel strongly that any student who has an aptitude for math should do as much as they can to advance their mathematics education,” math department chair Taylor Burk said.

According to Poongovan, being successful in the math competitions takes a large amount of time and devotion. She thinks it is worth doing because she is able to widen her skills and knowledge in math.

“I advise future mathletes to start early in the process and just stay determined and everything will turn your way,” Poongovan said.