21-year-old Farrell Eldrian Wu is not your typical math genius. He has been giving honor to the Philippines by winning numerous awards, including the country's first gold medal in the International Math Olympiad.
"What I enjoy about math, it has really changed over time," shared Wu. "I just felt happy when I am able to solve problems. I just felt that the depth of mathematics is very engaging."
This June, Wu graduated with a perfect grade point average of 5.0 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which is considered the world's number one university. "I went to MIT when I was 17. That was around four years ago. I majored in Computer Science and Business Analytics."
For Wu, there's no secret to obtaining the perfect GPA, but he credited his success to the strong academic and problem-solving foundation he got from the MGC New Life Christian Academy in Taguig City where he finished his high school.
He is also thankful for the rigorous training he received from professors and trainers from the University of the Philippines and Ateneo de Manila University, which prepared him for international math competitions.
"After lecture, I usually go over my notes to make sure I was not able to miss anything and I am able to understand what the professor has just said but also the big picture. I have a certain question that I ask myself after every lecture."
The MIT graduate's recent feat became viral on social media, particularly when Philippine Vice President Leni Robredo congratulated him on Facebook. The vice president recounted that her daughter Jillian and Wu participated in local math competitions. Robredo added that Wu has been very generous in giving back to the community.
Wu said, "around that time, I learned that the Jessie Robredo Foundation was building classrooms in remote areas as one of their programs... Due to my status as a math contestant, I could tutor students for a fee and while at the same time I can donate this money to the Jessie Robredo Foundation."
Wu turned his passion into a social advocacy by founding Operation MATHew, an educational outreach that trains and mentors public school students from underserved communities.
The math genius is also convinced that he can use math to solve real-life problems, particularly to reduce the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. "I figure out the interventions that would reduce, would produce the least economic impact, say in terms of like lockdowns, community quarantines, but at the same time like reducing the largest COVID cases. I think this requires accessing a lot of data."
Wu moved from Massachusetts to Chicago, Illinois where he is doing his three-year internship program with a financial firm. The straight A graduate has advice to those wishing to study abroad. "Just be passionate about something. These colleges like to see people who are really passionate about what they do."