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Math Winners

Gregory Rodriguez, Konstantin Itskov and Joseph Bak, NYSMATYC scholarship winners
Gregory Rodriguez, Konstantin Itskov and Joseph Bak, NYSMATYC scholarship winners
April 28, 2014

This year at the 2014 NYSMATYC (New York State Mathematics Association of Two-Year Colleges) conference in Owego, New York, one BMCC student and two recent alumni received scholarship awards, competing with students from 15 colleges across New York State.

Joseph Bak received the Dan Dowdway Memorial Scholar Award of $1,000 and Gregory Rodriguez and Konstantic Itskov received scholarships of $400 each.

"The NYSMATYC scholarship is a great way to reward mathematics major students for their hard work and dedication," says BMCC Math Professor Alla Morgulis.

"The scholarship awards are very competitive—factors such as GPA, participation in math competitions, Math Club and Team membership, community service, participation in research projects and excellent reference letters are all important factors in NYSMATYC committee consideration for the awards."

Keeping knowledge “fresh”

Joseph Bak graduated last semester from BMCC with an associate degree in math, and is now a math major at Stony Brook University, SUNY. “I’m planning to teach in college later and do research,” he says.

Bak worked in the BMCC Math Lab when earning his associate degree, and continues working there today. “Sometimes students ask questions I’ve never thought of, and by teaching, I keep my knowledge fresh,” he says.

After starting college in Korea, he moved to Queens, New York and took language classes at Queens College, CUNY. Once enrolled at BMCC, he made the Dean’s List while keeping busy with Phi Theta Kappa and the Math Club.

He has also attended three NYSMATYC conferences.

“I enjoy the problem solving,” he says. “I’ve liked math games since I was young and competed in regional competitions in Korea.”

Influencing the world

Recent BMCC math graduate Konstantin Itskov is now enrolled at Columbia University, and considering a major in computer science and mathematics. "I want to influence the world somehow,” he says. “A realistic way to do that would be working for a world-renown company, developing software.”

He’s interested in encryption, “but more on the mathematical side; how to create better passwords and algorithms. It’s math disguised as computer science.”

Born in Bryansk, Russia, Itskov and his family moved to Israel when he was eight.

“I was a medic in the Israeli Army,” he says, adding that he met his wife “as a tourist when I was visiting New York,” and eventually moved here.

At BMCC, Itskov made the Dean’s List, was a BMCC Foundation Scholar and a member of Phi Theta Kappa.

He also worked as a tutor in the Math Lab, and through the Office of Accessibility. Whether helping students with calculus or developmental math, “I really enjoy tutoring people,” he says. “It helps you get better at math when you have to explain it.”

Math: ‘It’s my thing’

Gregory Rodriguez grew up in Spanish Harlem, New York City and now lives in Brooklyn. After enrolling at BMCC he wavered between liberal arts, business and math as his major.

“Finally I stuck with math, because that’s what I’m the best at. Even as a child, it was my thing,” says Rodriguez, who competed in NYC public school math tournaments. “I was the district champion in sixth, seventh and eighth grade."

After graduating from BMCC, “I plan to go to NYU,” he says. “I’m hoping to get a scholarship. I’m part of a special program, POISE, or Pipeline Opportunities for Intercollege STEM Education.”

Eventually, he adds, “I’d like to teach math in a high school to make a difference with kids before they reach college."

He attributes his own love of math, to his family.

“I got my math skills from my dad,” he says. “He never needs to write down people’s phone numbers. I’m the first generation college student in my family, and both my parents did their best to help us go to college.”

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  • BMCC student and two recent alumni win NYSMATYC scholarships
  • One alumni is now at Columbia, the other at SUNY Stony Brook
  • They competed with students from 15 colleges across New York State

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