SALINA — Nic Bastian, Salina, was named the Southern Utah University College of Science and Engineering as the 2019 valedictorian. Bastian will graduate with a degree in mathematics with a concentration on pure mathematics this spring.
While in high school, Bastian decided he wanted to win Snow College’s annual math contest. He dedicated one hour every night to studying math, even during the summers. After placing first place in the competition during his junior and senior year of high school, he kept up his evening math studies.
“I really enjoyed the challenge of mathematics and viewed solving math problems somewhat like a game, where I won the game when I answered the question correctly,” Bastian said. “The sense of enjoyment from doing well in math is ultimately what made me decide I wanted to major in mathematics.”
During his sophomore year at SUU, Bastian faced the hardest class of his collegiate career - Math 4580: Complex Analysis. He averaged 30 hours a week on this class alone alongside four other courses he took that semester.
“At the time I wished I could drop the class, but looking back I wouldn’t change a thing,” Bastian said. “That class was tremendously hard and I was pushed beyond what I thought I was capable of. As a result, I became a far better student and mathematician.”
Bastian has participated in undergraduate research alongside Dr. Andrew Misseldine, assistant professor of mathematics, allowing him to apply his education in an experiential way. He has also taken six courses from Dr. Misseldine and looks to him as a mentor.
“Nic is a brilliant student, probably one of the best students I’ve ever seen at SUU,” said Misseldine. “He doesn’t procrastinate, he prioritizes his time well, he has presented his research at a gaggle of different places and has been published in a mathematical journal with another submission on its way. He is the perfect model of the type of student we want in the College of Science and Engineering.”
While in school, Bastian led study groups for various math classes and found joy in helping students understand difficult concepts.
“I mainly started my study groups because I thought it would help me get better at talking with people,” said Bastian. “The group did help with that, but I also found that I really enjoy teaching.”
Looking forward, Bastian has been accepted to the Brigham Young University graduate mathematics program.
Bastian said he hopes to become a professor one day so he can share his passion for problem solving with aspiring students.