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Shepard math whiz wants more than answers

Enrique Montoystudent Shepard High School Palos Heights aspires becoming mathematician.  |  Supplied phoby Sheri Reiplinger

Enrique Montoya, a student at Shepard High School in Palos Heights, aspires to becoming a mathematician. | Supplied photo by Sheri Reiplinger

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Updated: November 22, 2013 6:12AM



Enrique Montoya dreams of becoming a mathematician.

He’s so good at math that as a senior at Shepard High School in Palos Heights, he has taken the highest-level math classes the school offers. That’s why, this semester, he spends every Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoon taking college-level Calculus II and Calculus III classes at Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Hills.

He buzzed through Shepard’s math curriculum so fast because he took two math classes each semester during his freshman and junior years. That adds up to a lot of numbers.

But that’s exactly what Montoya loves.

“I want to major in mathematics. Hopefully within a few years, I’ll become a mathematician and work within the government or in a laboratory setting,” he said.

Montoya isn’t as excited about finding the correct answer as he is about the theory behind the math.

“I always liked numbers, but Ms. Ann Chang, my freshman math teacher, really opened my eyes to the theoretical aspect of math, which I enjoy much more than just answering the question,” said Montoya, 17.

Next year, he’d like to study math at Columbia University or maybe Princeton University.

“My goal is to become someone important within academia. I really want to become a mathematician within the theoretical field and discover something new about math that we don’t know,” said Montoya, who appears to be well on his way to achieving his dream.

At Shepard, he earned Honors with Distinction, the highest academic honor a student in the school can receive, and he is a National Honor Society member. In addition, as a member of the mathletes team, he had the fourth-highest score in the Illinois Council of Teacher’s Mathematics regional competition in the category of oral presentation.

Montoya also competes as a member of Shepard’s speech team. He enjoys the categories of special occasional speaking and original oratory. Special occasion speaking involves tackling a problem in society and persuading the audience to see his point of view using reasoning, logic and facts.

Montoya has competed with numerous topics, placing in the top three in most tournaments. Last year, when he argued for the legalization of marijuana, he made it to sectionals.

This year, he’s planning to compete in original oratory and dramatic duet acting.

“I really enjoy the speeches and the relationships I have with the people on the team,” he said.

In fact, last year, when a teammate on the speech team became sick with cancer, Montoya shaved his head on St. Baldrick’s Day to honor his friend. St. Baldrick’s fundraisers are held annually to raise awareness about childhood cancers.

Montoya, of Alsip, said his parents, Socorro and Felipe Montoya, are his mentors.

“They always support me,” he said. “They are always around with whatever I need and they make sacrifices for me. I really admire them.”



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