Dr. Mesa in the Math Office. Photo credit to Emma Bally, ’17.
Reham Mahgoub, ’16
Many of us regular Math Department visitors must have noticed that there is a new desk and chair next to Ms. Coffey’s desk. One thing is for sure: that desk is not just there to decorate the Math Department. It is occupied by the newest member of the BHSEC faculty and Math Department, Dr. Camilo Mesa. This is a big deal, for while he may look and act like a regular math teacher, Dr. Mesa leads and has lead a far more extraordinary life than one might realize.
Dr. Mesa was born in Colombia and spent a lot of time in Boulder, CO. He obtained his Ph. D from the University of Colorado at Boulder while working alongside mathematician Professor Sasha Gorokhovsky in the field of non-commutative geometry. This is a recently-invented field that aims to build mathematical models for physics theories such as the quantum mechanics theory and the string theory. Before getting his Ph. D, Dr. Mesa received his Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from the University of Colombia. His honors thesis revolved around creating an algorithm to solve a Rubik’s Cube via a mathematical theory known as group theory. Although this algorithm does not solve the Rubik’s Cube manually, it can do so on a computer via the application powered by the algorithm. He then taught at the University of Colorado for two years. In search of more work opportunities, he moved to New York City to pursue a teaching career in his lifelong passion, mathematics. It was then that he was introduced to the BHSEC community through the esteemed Dr. Noyes. Now he is a permanent member of the BHSEC faculty, and teaches 10th grade Algebra II and Trigonometry and Y1 Calculus classes.
Something that often surprises students is the idea that teachers lead lives outside of school that involve more than grading exams and assignments. Outside of school, Dr. Mesa cycles and loves listening to music, especially Jazz, Latin Jazz, and Reggae. He used to play the bass guitar but apparently BHSEC is as tiring for teachers as it is for students. Dr. Mesa has a 50-minute train commute to and from BHSEC, which is not something to look forward to in the mornings and especially five days a week.
When asked what he would do if he had three wishes, he gave surprising answers. Normally when confronted with three wishes, people ask for money, fame, or simply more wishes. But Dr. Mesa said that his first wish would be, “excellent quality education available to everyone on Earth.” His second wish was that “every human understood that we are one and all; that we need to save Earth and utilize its resources wisely.” His third and final wish was for humans to be able to “successfully continue exploring the solar system.” Seeing that every one of Dr. Mesa’s wishes results in an overall benefit to the human community, it is safe to say that faith in humanity has finally been restored.
Along with many other hobbies, Dr. Mesa enjoys reading. When asked what his favorite story or book is, he did not hesitate to answer “The Library of Babel,” a short story by Argentine author and librarian Jorge Luis Borges. The story envisions a universe in the form of a vast library containing all possible 410-page books of a certain format. Dr. Mesa also finds Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. a huge inspiration because he is “genuine and represents the compassion and understanding between individuals and communities.” Dr. Mesa is very modest. When his best friend introduced him to a group of friends as the smartest person he knew, Dr. Mesa was utterly shocked by such a statement.
When asked what subject he would pick to major in aside from mathematics, he struggled to find an answer. Apparently his love for mathematics extends to infinity and beyond. He finally decided, “I would probably work in a humanities field, maybe anthropology…But I thought [the classes] were too hard so I settled for math!” Regardless of that, Dr. Mesa is very passionate about mathematics and is greatly enjoying his time here at BHSEC. He says, “I am very happy to be here at BHSEC. The students have blown my mind; so motivated and smart. My colleagues in the Math Department are helpful, patient and understanding about my transition to working in the Math Department.”