La Jolla Light

Local high school student wins medal at an International Math Olympiad

By Giovanni Moujaes

When La Jolla High student Sarah Herrmann was in China this summer for a math competition, she not only won a medal. She also heard languages like Russian and China that she couldn’t understand.

But that didn’t bother her, she said, because she likes listening to them. “I can't really hear languages I know — I hear the meaning, but not the sound, whereas languages I don't know sound beautiful and amazing.”

She was one of eight American team members in Shenzhen, China, in early August for the 2011 China Girls Mathematical Olympiad. Before heading for Asia, she and the other girls — finalists at the 2011 USA Mathematical Olympiad — prepred for the event at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

“I’m lucky to have always liked math,” Hermann said after she returned. “In middle school I started doing math competitions and joined a group called San Diego Math Circle, run by Dr. David Brown, for students in fifth through 12th grades who enjoy math.”

Herrmann walked away with a bronze medal, as did four teammates. Two others obtained gold medals and another one a silver medal.

Although she’s not certain what her future holds, she said, ”Ido know that I want to pursue mathematics and science. Although Olympiad problems have little application beyond high school math competitions, the problem solving skills learned from them do. In addition, this trip allowed me to meet lots of people who also love math – new friends and role models.”

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