Yonatan "Yoni" Rubenstein, '16
"There is really room for anyone at HCC. Regardless of your background, you can come here and find your place and learn at your own pace."
After Yoni Rubenstein ran out of math classes to take at HCC, he created his own. During his last semester at HCC, Yoni took three indepedent study courses in advanced mathematics – Abstract Algebra, Partial Differential Equations, and Differential Geometry – in addition to Java programming and Physics II. He graduated in May 2016 with high honors (3.95 GPA) and two associate degrees (computer science and math) and is now at Commonwealth Honors College at the University of Massachusetts. He also represented HCC at the State House in May 2016 as one of the "29 Who Shine," an annual honor from the Dept. of Higher Education that recognizes one student from each of the state's 29 public colleges and universities.
Double major: Computer Science (Programming) and Mathematics
Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society; member, STEM Club; mentor, summer STEM Academy; mentor, Gateway to College; computer programmer, Image Insight Inc., software development startup company in East Hartford, Conn.
Favorite course & teacher:
I have two favorite teachers: I had Patty Sullivan for English 101 my first semester. She helped me grow both as a writer and as a person a lot. At the time I was really nervous about speaking in front of people and the environment her classroom fostered allowed me to feel like it was okay for me to speak up and read my essays to others and interact with people. I took Ethics with Don Hanover. He is really an amazing professor. He has this persona that is so intriguing and draws you in and gets you to care about the material. I've also had many very good math teachers.
What classes are you taking this semester?
Java II programming; Physics II; and three independant studies in math: Abstract Algebra, Partial Differential Equations, and Differential Geometry.
What appeals to you about computers and math?
I really like solving problems. With programming you get to build your own...whatever. For example, with games, I can build these worlds you can walk around in. I've never been artsy or musically talented, so this programming is a way I can express my creativity by doing what I'm good at.
Do you think math can be creative?
Not at the lower levels. This semester I'm doing three independent studies in more advanced math and definitely the problems I'm working on require much more creativity and using a variety of different tools to solve.
What brought you to HCC?
I started at HCC as a high school senior through the Gateway to College program. High school just wasn't the right place for me and I decided I definitely wanted to continue my education, and Gateway seemed like a really good opportunity. I think Gateway is great for a variety of reasons. It allows people to get high school diplomas who otherwise wouldn't be able to get them. The people who work there were really amazing. It was just a nice environment. It definitely helped me grow as a person.
What's been your most meaningful experience at HCC?
Probably the STEM Club and interacting with other people who are also interested in STEM.
What's the biggest challenge you've had to overcome at HCC?
I came to HCC thinking that I wanted to go to med school, and then I realized that wasn't what I wanted to do, so I took a year off. During my year off I worked as a computer programmer at Image Insight. I thought, oh, I like programming and I like math, so I'm going to do that. I came back and switched my major. It definitely helped me having a direction. Since then it's been a lot less challenging.
What is your favorite thing about HCC?
HCC has a really great math department, but my favorite thing is probably that there is really room for anyone at HCC. Regardless of your background, you can come here and find your place and learn at your own pace.
What's the most important thing you've learned at HCC?
Even if something doesn't come to you right away, it's worth the effort to try to figure it out yourself. Especially in math I've found it's important to try to figure stuff out yourself before you go ask someone else how to do something.
What's your proudest achievement at HCC?
I guess taking all the math classes. I learned a lot. The amount of growth I've achieved while being here both as a student and as a person.
What are your plans after HCC?
I'll be going to Commonwealth Honors College at the University of Massachusetts to study math and computer science. For a career I definitely want to do something with programming and hopefully a fair bit of math. After HCC I'll either get my master's degree or maybe get a job with a startup.