Governor General's Silver Medal
Perfect GPA leads to the top of the class
"Determination
and focus. He has both in spades."
Those are the words UVic mathematician
Bill Pfaffenberger uses to describe Ross Kang, who graduates
this month with a BSc in math and computer science,
and the Governor General's silver medal as the university's
top undergraduate.
"It's just a matter of discipline
and putting in the time," says Kang, who leaves
UVic with a perfect grade point average of 9.0. His
academic record is a sea of Apluses, blemished only
by one Aminus. "I also got an A in one graduate
course," he admits somewhat apologetically, "but
it didn't count toward my program."
Kang's accomplishments fulfil the promise
he showed at Mt. Douglas Sr. Secondary when math teacher
Dave Barker urged him to enter math competitions and
take math courses at UVic. He did both, graduated from
high school with straight A's, and won a $10,000 UVic
Excellence Scholarship.
While at university, Kang competed several times in
the Putnam math competition, the premier math event
for North American undergraduates. His personal best
was 164th place, putting him in the top six per cent
of participants.
Earlier this year, Kang won a UVic Blue
and Gold Circle award for combining scholastic achievement
with community involvement. He volunteered at Victoria
General Hospital, helped organize the annual Terry Fox
Run, and served on the executives of the UVic badminton
club, and the math and statistics course union.
For his part, Kang remains lowkey about
his mathematical abilities. "When I say I study
math, the other person usually says 'Oh, I was bad at
math' and wants to end the discussion there," he
says. "I guess math isn't easy for everyone. It's
not easy for me either."
His interests lie at the intersection
of math and computer science, known as discrete mathematics.
"It has to do with counting things," says
Kang, who is currently working as a research assistant
in the University of Waterloo's department of combinatorics
and optimization. This fall he heads to graduate school
for a PhD.
No doubt there he'll use the same time
management principles to guide him. "Figure out
how to get everything done, and allocate the right amount
of time to each thing," he says. "That's the
key."
