I’ve had an interest in mathematics since a young age, but for the longest time only knew its side of easy problems in class, or frustratingly difficult competition problems that I never felt completely capable of solving. When my math teacher at school invited me to attend the Julia Robinson Math Festival towards the end of fifth grade, I expected a competitive atmosphere, and another chance to be disappointed in my abilities. Instead I was greeted with crowds of smiling mathematicians, and stories of exotic worlds more fantastic than I could have ever dreamed. It was the world of Möbius strips, to this day one of my favorite objects and earliest memories of math, and of the chance to create and discover the endless possibilities of quantitative and geometric reality. I did not understand more than half of what was going on, but still felt a transcendence of the imagination that hinted at more beauty than I thought was possible. Since then I have tried my hardest to learn more advanced areas of mathematics not for the sake of pride in my own capacity, but simply so I may achieve a similar sense of wonder.
Daniel A. Santiago Alvarez
CROEM High School
Mayagüez, Puerto Rico
Daniel Santiago is the recipient of the 2019 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair mathematics research award.