Meet Irina Viviano Nancy Susan Reynolds Scholar at Wake Forest University

Irina Viviano of Kernersville, NC, is a senior at Wake Forest University, and is majoring in Mathematics and Computer Science. Irina is a recipient of the Nancy Susan Reynolds Scholarship. Made possible by the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, the Nancy Susan Reynolds Scholarship is awarded to up to six extraordinary students entering Wake Forest University. Scholars may also receive additional funds each summer for approved travel or study projects.

We sat down with Irina to learn more about her experience at Wake Forest and her plans after graduation.

What drew you to Wake Forest when applying to schools and what do you enjoy most about this University?

I am from a city very close to Winston-Salem, so I like being close to home. I do not feel like I sacrificed what schools farther away could have offered though. I love the international aspect that Wake offers. I am originally from Ukraine, and I love to travel. So, while I am so close to my hometown, I am also surrounded by likeminded people and easily able to be exposed to different cultures. When I found out I received the Nancy Susan Reynolds Scholarship I was so grateful that I would be able to pursue an education at this elite university – that’s why I was able to attend Wake Forest.

The Nancy Susan Reynolds Scholarship allows you to do independent research with professors. Tell us about that experience.

The interactions with the professors are not just limited to those receiving scholarships, but because of the scholarship I received, this summer I was able to work on a research project related to both of my majors. In Mathematics, I am researching how to create more visual ways to understand and study roots of functions. My Computer Science project is fascinating because I am working with a professor who has a background in this area of study. We are working on methods of obtaining information from applications in a more stable way – this is difficult because many applications are different because of the properties of the data within them.

What it is like balancing both mathematics and computer science?

I actually started as economics major. I decided to take more math classes, joined the math club, and later became president. I found my place with similar people, who became my friends. I really found my niche. While I do enjoy math, I am fascinated by more application-based mathematics, which led me into computer science. While I began to take more of these classes, I managed to join the math honors society, and maintain an “A” in a graduate level math class, all while working as tutor on campus. This is one of my top educational achievements while at Wake Forest.

What are your plans after graduation?

I am planning to go into a master’s program for Computer Science. I thought for a long time about pursuing a professorship, but as I said, I have a passion for the application of mathematics. After school, I might work in graphics industry. I love art, even though it is very different from my other passions, so finding a way, such as creating computer graphics to combine all my interests, would be the dream.

What advice would you give to recipients of the Nancy Susan Reynolds Scholarships and other Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation funded scholarships?

I would encourage others to reach out to the other Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation scholars. Having someone who has a similar scholarship can be great for networking and I have benefited greatly from having someone to share that academic connection with.

To learn more about other recipients of Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation funded scholarships, click here.