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Dan Zaharopol

Dan Zaharopol

Founder, director | Bridge to Enter Advanced Mathematics | Class of 2010

It’s the end goal for virtually everyone who pursues a Ph.D. in math.

“A lot of times, the only good outcome is seen as going on to be a math professor doing research at a good university,” says Dan Zaharopol (MS ’10, mathematics). “It’s what everyone strives for. It’s in the air. Without that, you feel like you’ve wasted your time, because why else do you need to learn such crazy math?

“Which made it a bit awkward when I decided I wanted to pursue math education for underprivileged youth.

“Thank goodness for Matt Ando, my advisor. In his quiet way, he supported me, and let me spend time figuring out just what I wanted to do with my life. He’s been one of the biggest backers of my work, and he’s even invited me back to speak — not once but twice.

“Thank goodness for Randy McCarthy, the director of graduate studies, who gave me the security to head out knowing that I could return if things went south, that I had a backup plan.

“Without them, I never would have been able to start the program I run now, Bridge to Enter Advanced Mathematics, which serves hundreds of low-income students every year in New York City and Los Angeles, and maybe more places to come.

“I hope I can carry forward their openness and supportiveness to my own students, and I hope I can open up pathways for them — even if it’s not for the careers I think they should have.

“And maybe, just maybe, their supportiveness will help some of my own students go on to get Ph.D.s themselves in the long run, even if I never did.”