NORMAN — For most graduating with a PhD in one’s early 20’s is a daunting task not even considered. But not for Scott Thuong of Joplin, Missouri, 22 years-old, such a challenge is part of the joy of learning. Thuong graduated from the University of Oklahoma with his PhD in mathematics with a focus in geometry and topology on Friday.
Thuong attended Thomas Jefferson Independent Day School and University of Missouri Columbia High School, from which he graduated at age 14. From there he attended Missouri Southern State University where he graduated with his bachelors at age 17 before coming to OU to pick up his master’s in 2011 and pursue his PhD. He is the son of Susan and Dr. Tran Van Thuong.
To accomplish as much as Thuong has at a young age is impressive, but Thuong said compared to others’ outstanding achievements, he sees his story as common. Yet Thuong has put in significant academic effort to be where he is today. He said he sees education as a marathon and not a sprint.
“I don’t work too hard; instead I work consistently. Everyday I make sure to do something, no matter how small, to achieve my goals. Because of this, learning is still a joy, and I don’t get tired or burned out,” Thuong said.
Thuong’s love for mathematics developed at an early age as he was encouraged and inspired by his father, a now retired mathematics professor.
“If I was home sick or out of school sometimes my dad would take me to his lectures, and I’d watch him teach,” Thuong said. “He would also tell me a lot of cool facts about math, such as, in topology, a coffee mug is the same as a donut.”
Thuong said his dad never drilled him with math facts, but instead spoke to him of his love of math and would point him in the direction of additional reading material.