BRANCHBURG, NJ – Two County College of Morris (CCM) freshmen won top prizes at the 16th Annual New Jersey Undergraduate Mathematics Competition (NJUMC) recently held at Raritan Valley Community College in Branchburg.

Out of the 84 participants from two-and four-year New Jersey colleges who competed individually and as teams, Sofiia Shvaiko of Livingston won the highest-ranking individual score overall and the highest-ranking female score, and her teammate, Gabriel Lukijaniuk of Hackettstown, won third place in the individual competition. Together, they won first place for the highest-ranking team from a two-year institution.

Shvaiko is an international student from Kharkiv, Ukraine who has competed in several math competitions in Eastern Europe. Still, the computer science major was not certain she could win the top spot in the NJUMC.

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“My family was proud of me that I proved my knowledge outside of my country and had the skill to compete,” said Shvaiko, who hopes to complete her bachelor’s degree at Rutgers University after graduating from CCM and eventually become a software developer.

Lukijaniuk said that winning the competition was a strange feeling because he wasn't sure how he would compare to "other people who majored in math and had the same passion and studying habits.

"I was actually quite surprised when I had found that I placed that high,” said Lukijaniuk, who prepared for the competition by going to the NJUMC website and taking tests from past competitions.

According to Lukijaniuk, the tips and techniques he learned from his math classes at CCM gave him an edge. Like his teammate, Lukijaniuk also hopes to complete his bachelor’s degree at Rutgers University. He said his ideal job would be a combination of math professor and math researcher.

“Our thanks go out to the entire mathematics faculty for supporting these students throughout their academic journey, as well as to Don Phelps, director of Campus Life, and the Math Club for funding the competition,” said Kelly Fitzpatrick, an associate professor at CCM and advisor to the team. “These wins are truly impressive results.”

Following the competition, students enjoyed the day viewing poster presentations, listening to student talks and hearing from major companies about job opportunities for math majors in actuarial science, analytics and data science.