Success started early for this young ‘Uncommon Woman’January 17, 2017
by Kathryn R. Burke
Julia Vann graduated from Ouray High School in 2015 and got a full ride to Amherst College in Massachusetts, where she is a math major.
“It’s kind of funny,” she said, “because I hated math until I took Calculus. I discovered I had a knack for it, and decided to major in math in college.” Based on her GPA, extracurricular activities, work experience, etc., she was offered the local and regional scholarships.
Julia’s long-term goal is to obtain a PhD in math or public health. The field that interests her most is Quantitative Public Health or Biomath with public health applications. “It’s kind of a niche profession,” she said. “And it’s burgeoning right now.”
What exactly is Quantitative Public Health? “The profession uses math to answer public health questions,” she explained. “We use math models to help get funding for studies to model cell growth or the transmission of diseases. Models mimic real life—for example, maybe finding the quickest way to eradicate tuberculosis in developing countries.”
Julia’s interest in studying about disease and finding cures began in middle and senior high school, when she thought about becoming a medical doctor. But as she learned more about what that entailed, she realized public health was where she really wanted to be. “I thought doctors did more of what public health specialists do,” she explained. “And public health is the field that really interests me.”
At Amherst, Julia is a math major, but because of the college’s open curriculum, she can take any subject she likes, “so long as I complete eight major classes before my senior year. I’m taking dance, astronomy sociology—all kinds of interesting classes. Every semester, I try something different. I’m a math major, but I’m also a ‘Jack of all subjects.’”
The school and the community of Amherst have been great. “I love it, except for the lack of sun,” she said. “Western Massachusetts is rural. We have a lot of wildlife, and nature to explore. Yet, I’m only one and a half hours from Boston. I’d love to live in Boston in the future.”
Meanwhile, she’ll start looking at graduate schools in her junior year, and apply in her senior year. “I’d love to wind up at Harvard or Stanford,” she said.
With her track record so far, it’s a good bet Julia will realize her dreams, get into the graduate school she hopes to attend, and become a success in her chosen field.
Monthly meetings are held at 1-3 p.m. at the Ouray Community Center, San Juan Room. Now in it’s sixth year, and created by Club VP Barb Morss, most meetings feature a unique program presenting guest speakers who are . . . “uncommon women” and who lead . . . “uncommon lives.” Following a break for refreshments, a short business meeting is held. The public is welcome.