Jessica Egan
Degree: Bachelor of Science (Advanced Mathematics)  Honours in Pure Mathematics
I never intended to study mathematics at university, but without a doubt, it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I wanted to be on the frontier making breakthrough discoveries at the very forefront of modern science. I thought I had to be studying nanotechnology, biotechnology or computer science. I never dreamed of the myriad of possibilities that mathematics offers, both academically and in the outside world.
In my first few years of studying mathematics at UNSW the classes were huge. I enjoyed the company of not only potential mathematicians, but also potential physicists, engineers and computer scientists, among others. They all needed mathematics in the beginning. It didn’t take too long for me to realise that I didn’t just need to study mathematics; I wanted to. In later years, the classes shrunk and I developed a strong relationship with a small group of mathematically minded people.
The study of mathematics is so very diverse. A single problem can be challenging, inspiring, humbling, uplifting and fun; all at the same time. I majored in Pure Mathematics, but studied a few applied and statistical subjects as well. On the side, I filled my electives with computing subjects. I loved how interrelated it all was – how my study in one subject enriched my understanding of another.
I had the privilege to represent UNSW in the COMAP Mathematical Modelling Contest  twice. The contest is a four day intensive international competition where you are given a real world problem and work in teams to solve it. At the end of the four days you submit a report. It was a great opportunity to hone my skills not only at mathematical modelling, but also in writing up reports expressing mathematical conclusions. UNSW also offers vacation scholarships that are the perfect preparation for an Honours project.
I now work as an Actuarial Analyst at Taylor Fry Consulting Actuaries in Sydney CBD, and I am an Associate member of the Institute of Actuaries Australia. I’m excited to have found a niche of mathematically minded people in the workforce, as I did at UNSW. Perhaps later I’ll return to more academic pursuits. That’s one of the beauties of mathematics – you can do just about anything with it.
