# How I started the journey? - Part I.3

Torture but fun!

“You will get the same treatment!”

It was a nice and quiet evening in the summer of 2016. I got a phone call from my advisor that the committee voted for my admission, and I was officially locked in! Finally, after a few uneasy and anxious months, I made it through. I still remember that wife and I celebrated it with a nice bottle of wine! What a beautiful gift for a soon-to-be 30 years old crazy man!

A few days later, I had a meeting with the department chair, who made a joke saying “You will get the same treatment!” That was exactly what I wanted to hear from the chair! I would be dead if they tailored a particularly less rigorous plan simply because I was a part-time student.

The excitement quickly faded away as I started worrying about a list of things. For instance, I worried about if I would be able to manage my focus for a 45-minutes lecture. I hadn’t been in school for almost 3 years! The list just kept growing until I regretted doing it.

I guess it was a short period of time, a few weeks maybe, that I had a very serious imposer syndrome: “Did I steal the spot from someone else?” “I can’t be doing this thing!” “Help me!” The feeling was so strong that I still remember every bit of details till these days.

Luckily, I wasn’t bothered by the fraudulent self-portrait for too long, as I had to figure out how to cope with my shaky mathematical background.

I earned a * B.A. in English* and a

*before started my master program at Lehigh, so it is safe to say I didn’t have a great maths background.*

__B.Econ in Finance__Even after the master program, I knew my maths skill was quite shaky. Yet, somehow, I made up my mind that I could handle a maths-heavy Ph.D. program just fine! And, even crazier, I got accepted to the program!

Years later, my fellow doctors joked about we were just a bunch of Ph.D. in “Inequalities” because we all had to use some kind of inequalities as mathematical tricks to figure out the proofs of some algorithms. In that sense, it would be an overstatement that one must be a mathematician to finish the Ph.D.. But, it was no doubt that I had to figure out how to build a solid mathematical foundation before knowing how to use those tricks, and to use them well.

Two years into the program, I was surprised how much I fell in love with theoretical stuff, a lot maths and fun. I will talk more about it in next part.