By Matt Gergyek
Photos by Mike Pinder
Carleton University Statistics graduate Hao Wang, this year’s winner of the Governor General’s Medal – awarded annually to the undergraduate with the highest academic standing – has some important advice on how to be a successful student, but it might not be what you think.
Wang’s greatest tip on how to excel academically is to not strive to be the cookie-cutter straight-A student who spends every hour of their day combing through notes and analyzing lecture slides. While that may be necessary, Wang says a student’s strongest strategy for success is to seek collaboration and ask for help when needed.
“What really helped me was having a study group with friends who are actually genuinely interested in the same material,” Wang says. “Going to office hours and talking to professors or asking questions in general . . . helps you [to] perform better.”
A Tight-Knit Community
After his first year, Wang admits he considered leaving Carleton, but the tight-knit community in the the School of Mathematics and Statistics helped him stick around.
“I haven’t had a professor turn me down when I knocked on their door for a question, even if it’s not during office hours,” Wang says. “Everyone was willing to answer questions or just talk in general. Two professors in particular, Nicolas Rodrigue, a Biology professor, and Song Cai, a Statistics professor, really helped me a lot and made me want to stay at Carleton.”
A Certain Elegance
Next winter, Wang will pursue a Master of Science in Statistics at Carleton. After completing his master’s degree, Wang says he hopes to pursue a PhD and eventually become a professor in Statistics.
“Statistics, as with any branch of Mathematics, has a certain elegance to it that appeals to me,” Wang says. “I like the objective nature of mathematics- answers aren’t going to be judged based on the evaluator. It’s either right or it’s wrong.”
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