Math is Freedom: A Journey from Prison to PhD

Posted on 9/17/21 10:05 AM

If you dive deep into it, you'll discover that math is more than numbers and symbols. For IUP graduate Vincent Thompson, math is freedom. It's helped him grow, communicate, and even turn his life around.

Thompson came to IUP and flourished, and with the guidance of faculty member Francisco Alarcón, he won the prestigious Goldwater Scholarship.

He's now headed to Rice University to pursue his PhD. He hopes to someday teach at the university level.

"Mathematics has really appealed to me mostly because of that ability to move laterally. You can find applications everywhere. You can sort of have a freedom that you don't get in other fields." – Vincent Thompson
Vincent Thompson sits near a low table opposite Francisco Alarcon as they talk and look over papers.
"That drive and that desire really has now gotten him to be able to not just secure admission to graduate programs, (but) he had to turn some of them down." – Francisco Alarcón
Vincent Thompson holds a text book open as he writes mathematical equations on a white board across a wall, with darkness framing the black and white image.
"You can't count anyone out. You can't say that about people because you might have been compelled to say that about me seven years ago. ... When people see me today, they can't believe the changes." – Vincent Thompson