Why didn’t you pursue mathematics?

I left math for a totally different reason and I’m almost embarrassed to talk about it. A little background…

I worked full time through college and graduated with less than $100 in the bank. I had opportunities to go on to graduate school for either math or business.

Every professor in our math department drove an older subcompact except the department head who drove a Chevy Impala. Imagine, work your whole life, get to the top of your field, and drive an Impala!

I had struggled too long to set myself up for more struggle. So I went on to get my MBA, learned how to program, and have never had a lack of good quality, high paying work. I’m a little embarrassed that I was so shallow back then, but maybe my subconscious was trying to tell me something. I love math, but I’m sure glad I made the choice I did.

At a recent math reunion, I felt right at home once again. I met a buddy who graduated with me and continued on to become a tenured math professor at a major university. I asked him how he felt about his choice. He told me, “I’ll never be rich, but I teach calculus for 8 hours per week 9 months per year, I don’t have to publish, and my wife and I have visited over 100 countries. Not a bad life at all.”