The merit of mathematics

28th annual Pythagorean Prize winners to be recognized April 25

Sara Mallory, Campus Life Editor

The Pythagorean Prize is one of the most celebrated scholarship opportunities available at Schoolcraft College, which recognizes the top three mathematics students of the academic year. The 2023 winners are: first place Yash Patel ($3000), second place Brendan Hessling ($1500) and third place Colin Lazarki ($1000).

On April 25 from 3:15-5 p.m. in Vistatech Center, Waterman 210 this year’s winners will be recognized for their achievements with  a ceremony and reception.

Yash Patel is the 2023 1st place Pythagorean Prize Winner.

Yash Patel: First Place

Bombarded with happiness, accomplishment and relief, Patel was struck with disbelief when Mathematics Professor and former Pythagorean Prize winner (2005) Lawrence Choraszewski called to congratulate him for winning the first place prize. 

Patel first learned about the contest during his second semester at Schoolcraft, when Mathematics Professor Audrey Mingela approached Patel and encouraged him to join the contest. Last year he did not qualify, but this year nothing was holding him back. 

“I want to thank Professor Micheal McCoy, Professor Choraszewski, and Professor Mingela for the help and guidance I received while taking their classes,” says Patel. 

Patel is currently pursuing an Associates in General Studies with plans to transfer after the fall 2023 semester. His ultimate goal is to pursue a career in aerospace engineering. Although he does not have his heart set on a certain college, when the time comes it is undeniable that he will make the right decision. 

Brendan Hessling is the 2023 second place Pythagorean Prize winner.

Second Place: Brendan Hessling 

Once an Ocelot, now a Wolverine, Hessling has been gunning for a career in the engineering field since early high school. He is now set on a career in mechanical engineering, but remains undecided on what aspect of his field he should concentrate on. 

“I know there are so many areas of focus within this degree so I don’t want to limit myself to one possibility,” comments Hessling.

Hessling first heard about the contest in his Calculus 1 class but waited until his Calculus 3 class, when he felt more confident and prepared. He was excited and happy that he placed and attributes his success to how much hard work he put into the math classes he took at Schoolcraft. 

Although his tenure at Schoolcraft has ended, he is positive that Schoolcraft’s math classes were fundamental to his future in mechanical engineering. Now that he has transferred to U of M, Ann Arbor, Hessling feels he was set up for success and is thankful for everything Schoolcraft did to get him there. 

Colin Lazarski is the 2023 Third place Pythagorean Prize winner.

Third Place: Colin Lazarski

When Lazarski started his mathematical journey here at Schoolcraft, he struggled to find motivation. However, Professor McCoy presented Lazarski with a way of learning he was not familiar with: the flipped classroom. The flipped classroom is the opposite of a traditional classroom, where notes and lectures are done through recorded lectures at home and homework is done in class. This new class approach helped Lazarski learn about his own personal learning style which set him up for success.

Lazarski attributes his decision to apply for the contest to his confidence in math and especially to the support he received from friends, family, and his professors. 

I have never been more blown away by the amount of support and professionalism from a group of teachers. With every math class that I have taken, there has been a Schoolcraft professor willing to put time and effort into helping me push myself to provide my best work,” says Lazarski.

In the fall, Larzarski plans to transfer to Michigan State University to pursue electrical engineering with the hopes of deciding on a concentration down the line. 

“Each of our winners has blown us away with their phenomenal academic backgrounds. As you might expect, their grades in their college coursework are among the best. In addition, our winners are active contributors to the College and participate in clubs and organizations such as The Math and Physics Club and Phi Theta Kappa,” states Choraszewski. “What’s more is that our winners have achieved such high accolades while enduring some disruptions in their academic environment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Their passion and grit for learning was very evident to us and is among the best you’ll see at the college.” 

The competition for the prize is fierce and not everybody that applies qualifies for it. In order to even qualify for the Prize, applicants must meet the following criterion:

  1. Be enrolled and have taken classes at Schoolcraft College during Fall or Winter semester of the academic year of presentation.
  2. Be completing or have completed at least three mathematics courses at Schoolcraft College, with at least one course at the Math 200 level or above.
  3. Have an overall grade point average of at least 3.25.
  4. Have a grade point average of at least 3.50 in mathematics courses.
  5. Not have been a first place winner of this award previously.
  6. Have completed and submitted an application and essay by the deadline date.

“It was no easy task to make our winner selections. We are extremely proud of them and are so blessed to have been a part of their educational journey. As with previous winners, we have no doubt that they will move on to do even more amazing things with their lives!” said Chorazewski.

The prize was founded in 1995 by Mathematics Professor emeritus Larry Williams. Upon his retirement, Mathematics Professor Emeritus Sandra Kerr took over the program which was then passed down to current chairperson Chorazewski. 

Just like how the pythagorean theorem is one of the most celebrated mathematical theorems of the modern area, this prize is one of the most highly supported and celebrated competitions that Schoolcraft has to offer. 

Garnering a massive amount of support not just from those within Schoolcraft’s mathematics department, but also from the community at large. The competition has come to an end for now, but the mathematical merit of Schoolcraft students will again be put on full display when it returns next year.

All first-place prize winners are noted on an engraved nameplate on permanent display in the Mathematics Department’s case in the Biomedical Technology Center.

For more information about the Pythagorean Prize, please contact Professor Lawrence Choraszewski at [email protected].