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"MCIS department prepared me wonderfully for life beyond graduation. This fall will mark the beginning of my fifth year as a mathematics graduate student at Duke University. I'm presently working to complete my thesis in applied mathematics on the fluid dynamics of thin liquid films."

Harrison Potter

Graduation Year: 2008
Majors: Mathematics and Physics
Duke University Mathematics Department
Graduate Student
Durham, North Carolina

Harrison developed a love of mathematics and an appreciation for physics throughout his childhood, but especially upon entering high school. By the end of his junior year he knew that he wanted to attend college to be a physics and mathematics major. Fortuitously it was around this time that he received an e-mail from Marietta College describing the Rickey Physics Scholarship. Although he had big dreams that he did not think attending such a small liberal arts college could help him achieve, he nonetheless arranged to visit Marietta College with his parents, reasoning that it would give him much-needed experience with college visits.

Upon arriving at the college, however, it quickly became clear that Marietta had a lot more under the hood than he had expected. Growth on campus was ubiquitous: the Rickey Science Center, Dyson-Baudo Recreation Center, and McCoy Hall all looked brand new. As a prospective physics major the Rickey Science Center looked like the perfect space to learn and grow without being lost in a sea of equally ambitious students who would vie for the attention of professors, a notion reinforced by a personal meeting with all three physics faculty members during his visit. As a high school cross country and track athlete who was looking to continue running at a collegiate level the new indoor track not only held great promise as a training facility but ensured that the team would have plenty of home meets in the winter, which would minimize travel time and help him keep schoolwork as his true priority. And who wouldn't want to live in a new dormitory that was only a 5 minute walk from even the most distant campus locations? There were definitely advantages to a small school environment.

So it came to pass that, after further considering the available courses, Harrison decided to apply to Marietta College and, after learning that he had received the McCoy Scholarship, he happily enrolled. Marietta College did not disappoint. The math department had topics courses each semester that kept the curriculum fresh and provided him with many elective courses to fill his schedule. The physics department had a strong core curriculum that challenged him, with plenty of space and lab equipment for classes in experimental physics. The computer science classes introduced him to C++ and html, both of which he still uses regularly. The athletics department challenged him to be the best athlete that he could be while still fully supporting his primary role as a college student.

As part of the Marietta College Math Club he also had the opportunity to participate in mathematics competitions, a passion he discovered while still in high school, including the famous Putnam Exam, among others. Professors encouraged him to apply to summer Research Experiences for Undergraduates programs, which ultimately played a critical role in enabling him to get into Duke University as a graduate student in mathematics. While still an undergraduate these programs also led to Harrison giving a talk at the 2008 Joint Mathematics Meetings in San Diego, California, accompanied by other students and faculty from Marietta College and with the financial support of the math department. Faculty from the physics and mathematics departments also collaborated to enable a senior thesis project that bridged the disciplines, enabling a more personalized and original thesis project.

All told Marietta College prepared Harrison wonderfully for life beyond graduation. This fall will mark the beginning of Harrison’s fifth year as a mathematics graduate student at Duke University. He is presently working to complete his thesis in applied mathematics on the fluid dynamics of thin liquid films. Without the support of everyone at Marietta College he would never have enjoyed such success and he is thankful that he gave the charming small town college the chance to win him over. It is a decision that he will never regret.

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