“I went to Cambridge to test myself,” said Bodenhamer Fellow Stuart Shirrell after the junior year he spent studying advanced mathematics in one of the world’s great universities. But self-testing was not new for Stuart, who as a senior at Little Rock’s Central High School captained the “Fed Challenge” team which won a national economics competition judged by the Chairman and Governors of the Federal Reserve Board.
While at Cambridge, Stuart discovered a great deal about himself and about mathematics.The academic work was far more demanding than anything he had encountered, and the winter wind never let up. But after a difficult start Stuart realized he was growing personally and academically. His courses “came alive” and new friendships blossomed. After backpacking across southern Europe he returned to Cambridge to prepare for the end of year examinations that would determine his standing. Stuart took “First Class Honours” in the third and final year of the Cambridge mathematics exam. His parting thought on the experience: “I had passed not only Cambridge’s exams but my own.”
Stuart is working on two senior theses: one exploring topics in analysis under the supervision of mathematics professor John Ryan, and one focusing on complex networks in economics under the supervision of Javier Reyes, associate dean for undergraduate studies in the Walton College of Business. He will graduate next spring with honors degrees in mathematics and economics, but his education extends well beyond the classroom. He has served as an Honors College Ambassador, tutored students in local schools and helped organize a student “think tank” which introduces undergraduates to big issues in public policy.