Noam Kantor, from Clayton, Missouri, is a senior at Emory College majoring in mathematics. His research focuses on number theory (researching unexpected relationships between sets of numbers to find patterns and predict future outcomes). In addition to being a Woodruff Scholar at Emory, Noam also received the Goldwater Scholarship, the nation’s premier scholarship for undergraduates studying math, natural sciences, and engineering in 2015. When he’s not in the classroom, Noam is also active in Emory Hillel, the Emory Inter-Religious Council, and is an occasional writer for the Emory Wheel, the campus’ student-run newspaper.
This post is part of a series highlighting the Emory University Scholar Programs, the Scholars application deadline (November 15, 2016), and Emory University’s affordability. Also check out a story from Amy Hou, another current Scholar, learn about the Scholar Programs’ legacy, read through answers to Financial Aid FAQs, and get step-by-step instructions on how to apply for Scholars in the Common and Coalition Applications.
From Noam Kantor:
It seems strange to reflect so heavily on what the the Scholar Program has brought to my college experience: When was the last time you reflected on how your shoes change your walking experience? Just as shoes are essential and ever-present, so is the Scholar Program. The program has been the ever-present bedrock of my experience here at Emory, surrounding me with passionate peers and allowing me to more fully explore my own passions.
The magic began at the interview weekend at the Scholar Finalist Campus Visit. (This is by invitation only, and it occurred in the spring of my senior year of high school). Here, I met people who would become some of my closest friends. If you don’t believe me, the picture above is me with my roommates, Julianna and Jason. We met at the Scholar Finalist Campus Visit back in 2013!
But what is it about the people I met that weekend that changed the course of my college career? Surely many Emory students are talented and passionate, and I would likely have been successful in my own academic sphere without the Scholar Program.
The key role of the program was that it gave me these fundamentals — an intellectual community and connections to outstanding professors — before I even stepped on campus.
That way, when I got to campus my freshman year, I didn’t have to worry about finding a group of friends that pushed me to be my best self. I didn’t have to worry about feeling at home, because I already knew upperclassmen and Scholars who wanted to give me advice about school and life.
Let me give you a sense of some of the best people I have ever met, my role models from the Scholar Program. They include a man whose professed life goal was to start a monastery, and who carries the wisdom of an old man in his twenty-something year old heart. Another of my role models is a woman who, in addition to being an incredible musician, taught us younger Scholars by example that it is okay to talk openly about mental health.
Finally, I didn’t have to worry about finding a supportive and challenging academic advisor because I met mine before I even enrolled. He immediately saw my interest in math and outlined a possible academic path that would allow me to dive right into the material I loved. This path included taking a capstone math course my freshman year. I am proud to say that I have followed his original outline almost exactly, and will be graduating this May not only with a Bachelor’s degree but also a Master’s degree in math, earned in four challenging and enjoyable years.
As if the personal connections and academic opportunities weren’t enough, the financial support of the Emory Scholar Program has allowed me to make decisions in my best interest and in the interest of my community — without regard to monetary questions. For example, I never ask for compensation for tutoring. Other Scholars have also shared with me that their entire career choice has been guided by the fact that they don’t have to worry about school loans and debt.
This ultimate privilege has allowed me to live my college experience with intellectual abandon, and for that I could not be more thankful.
Noam Kantor, Class of 2017
Note that Scholar Program invitations and any associated merit scholarships are subject to change from year to year. Please visit our website for the most up-to-date information and to learn more about scholar program opportunities.