In addition to the superconductor research he did with a Goucher professor, Paul Powell rounded out his studies as a mathematics major and French minor with three study-abroad programs, one summer abroad piloting a math education program in South Africa, and a three-year stint as a lacrosse player. Immediately after graduating in May 2003, he was selected by Teach for America for a position in Los Angeles.
Powell came to Goucher planning to participate in the college’s five-year dual-degree joint program with the Johns Hopkins University. A few classes he took as electives led him to change his major to mathematics. His intense interest and impressive ability in math led to his collaboration with physics Assistant Professor Sasha Dukan on a research project in theoretical physics, the results of which were published in June in the journal Physical Review B. A three-week intensive course he took in Ghana piqued his interest in study abroad, which led to another intensive course sudying French in Avignon, France, and a special project teaching math in South Africa.
As if all of that weren’t enough, Powell plays guitar and bass and competed on Goucher’s varsity lacrosse squad. He received an award supporting a photography project featuring the students he taught in South Africa, and he mounted his own solo exhibition of his work in the gallery of Goucher’s Meyerhoff Arts Center.
Powell made a conscious decision when he was considering colleges to attend one that would enable him to indulge a wide variety of interests rather than treating those interests as a sidelight to one all-consuming academic focus. Now he says he’s glad he did. “The liberal arts part of [my education] completely opened my mind,” he says. “When you’re 18, you don’t really know what’s going on anyway. The person you’re going to become is probably going to be completely different. College is going to open up your mind to a whole bunch of different things. I’ve been able to experience all these things -- photography, travelling to France, the research with Sasha -- because I had the time here to explore them.”