BEST and BRIGHTEST: Numbers add up for Menon’s ambitions

NANAIMO: Every successful organization has behind it a dedicated person who picks up the slack and ensures events go forward as planned.

Neetu Menon

Neetu Menon

Every successful organization has behind it a dedicated person who picks up the slack and ensures events go forward as planned.

For Wellington Secondary School’s student council, that person was Neetu Menon last year.

Throughout the year, she quietly finished off what others started so that good intentions became reality.

“It’s so sad when a good idea gets wasted by lack of planning and people to carry it out,” said Menon.

She was the guiding force behind the water walk fundraiser last May – students and community members walked a mile with buckets of water to raise awareness about the realities facing people in some developing countries and money to help build a well for a village in Kenya. The initiative raised $700.

The confidence needed to take on leadership roles began developing at age 14 when Menon, who now has her third-degree black belt, started teaching adult taekwondo classes.

“I’m often quite shy,” she said. “I find it hard to go up to groups.”

Menon stepped out of her comfort zone again in Grade 10 when she joined her school’s Link Crew, a mentorship program that pairs senior students with Grade 8s to help them adjust to life in high school.

She was afraid of being judged by the younger students, but overcame her reservations to try to pass on her love of learning.

Menon’s particular passion in life is actuarial science.

Actuarial science combines mathematical and statistical methods to assess risk in the insurance and finance industries.

“I like using math as a way to understand the world,” she said. “I found true bliss in probability and statistics. It’s kind of like exploring in a way. When I was in Grade 2, I used to go off and do algebra problems.”

Her dream is to get her doctoral degree and do new research in this field. Menon reads university-level math books in her spare time and two years ago attended the Canadian Mathematical Society’s winter meeting in Vancouver to hear lectures from mathematicians about new research in probability.

To balance out her high science and math course load at school, Menon sang with a local young adult choir.

“I’m so busy with all these intellectual, left-brain activities and singing is kind of a creative outlet for me,” she said.

Menon heads to the University of Waterloo to study mathematics in September.

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