A Calculated Win for SMC Math

Math is a subject many students struggle with. To some, the idea of doing a math problem is comparable to getting a root canal. Ke Qu is not one of those students.

Qu, a sophomore at Santa Monica College, recently placed fifth nationally in the biannual Student Math League Competition of the American Mathematical Association of Two-Year Colleges. SMC placed sixth nationally.

"I am very proud of our students," said math professor William Konya in an SMC press release. "Their strong results show that students in mathematics at Santa Monica College do outstanding work."

However it was Qu who finished highest out of the more than 100 other SMC students who participated. His score of 70 surpasses his 63 from last year's competition. "The key to the competition is timing," says Qu of his success.

The competition was broken into two rounds, with one occurring each semester. The 2,121 students competing nationally were given one hour to complete 20 questions in the area of pre-calculus.

In addition to his national ranking, Qu was also awarded a $200 check.

Qu, a business economics major, plans to save the money as he prepares to transfer to UCLA in the fall.

After arriving in America from his native China in 2006, Qu feels that the next transition in his life will help him reach his goal.

"After graduating school I would prefer to go to the east coast for graduate education," says Qu. "After graduate school I would like to find a job related to finance or accounting."

Qu says that the biggest adjustment he's had to make since moving to America was living away from his parents. "In China everything was kind of ready for me," says Qu, 21. "Now I need to deal with everything by myself."

ough, cooking for himself, finding an apartment, and battling Los Angeles traffic, which he feels is overrated compared to traffic in Beijing. "They'd go crazy," Qu says of LA commuters unfamiliar with traffic in the Chinese capital.

Another adjustment Qu had to make was improving his English. Despite taking English classes since elementary school, Qu rarely spoke the language outside of the classroom, leading to a diminishing of his skills.

Aside from academics, Qu enjoys his time swimming, taking pictures, and shooting pool. As a member of Alpha Gamma Sigma, Qu also volunteers at numerous places around the city, including Outward Bound House and LA Regional Foodbank.

Qu keeps his math skills sharp by working as a tutor in the math lab on campus, which also has auxiliary benefits. "I think it's a good experience for me," says Qu. "It helps me to improve my English when I have to explain stuff to others."