In between reaching PR goals, House sat down with us to answer a few questions about his time at ASU.

Question: What is something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you, that changed your perspective?

Answer: There have been quite a few examples of this, but if I had to choose, I would probably go with my existentialism course that I took in summer 2017. That was quite an experience.

Q: What is the best piece of advice you would give to those still in school?

A: I could say, “take classes seriously,” and that would be about right, but I don’t think that piece of advice is particularly meaningful just because it’s so cliché and unrealistic. Instead, I’ll say take the right classes seriously. I coasted through some of my undergraduate classes — particularly my non-math classes — and there are a few where I got an A but I didn’t get as much value from it as was there. My advice: don’t do that; don’t coast through classes of value.

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?

A: Easily "The Cube." There’s a structure in the southern half of campus, near-ish to Barrett [The Honors College] which is essentially a cube with a square cut out of the top. What’s left of the top has lights pointed at it which change its color. It’s a very nice, relaxing place that I’ve been to many times with various groups of people. It’s my go-to novel place on campus.

Q: What do you think is most misunderstood about math by the general public?

A: I think that most people don’t think about the fact that people came up with all the facts/theorems that you learn about in school. It’s not like everyone in history was taught the Pythagorean theorem. A long time ago, a mathematician actually sat down and discovered the fact for himself. I think that’s especially easy to forget when the math starts to become foundational to things people do. I often see that in Calculus 3 students, when talking about Green’s theorem. People think it’s a random fact that just happens to be true when an actual person discovered it themselves.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: Underfunded education programs. The cycle of poverty is just brutal, and I wish everyone had the opportunity to succeed. I think education is a reliable avenue to success, so I would dedicate attention there.

Rhonda Olson

Manager of Marketing and Communication, School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences