La Sierra Academy student recites 1000 digits of pi in annual recitation content
By Israel Carreón Jr
Joseph Nguyen, a 12th grade student, broke a new La Sierra Academy (LSA) record by reciting 1000 digits of pi. LSA holds its annual Pi Recitation Competition with junior and high school brackets. This tradition dates back to 2011. The previous record was held by LSA 2018 alum Ezra Sarmiento with an impressive 370 digit recitation. This year, the judges sieved through 16 pages before finally exhausting the numbers available to count. One thousand digits of pi had been recited.
Nguyen still had 111 memorized digits left in the tank.
What had first started out as an ostensible feat quickly evolved into a history-making moment unfolding before faculty and fellow peers. A crowd of few soon matured into a cheering assembly. Nguyen continued with assiduous focus.
“I tried to block out external conversations, but I couldn’t help but hear the exclaims of ‘How does he know all this?’ and ‘The teachers just flipped another page,’” said Nguyen.
Nguyen began his journey towards memorizing over 1000 digits of pi during Christmas break. He memorized digits in divisions of 10 and subdivisions of 5. Sometimes a pattern of numbers would appear. Patterns facilitated fluid memorization. His goal was to memorize 15 digits per day–totaling to 1325 digits by March 14–Pi Day, the day of the recitation content. “This was my commitment to consistency instead of procrastination.” He took his practice wherever he went.
Nguyen carries no measure of hubris in victory. Quite the contrary, in fact. He demurred at any assertion of being a mathematical sage. “I am no innate genius or math wizard. I only committed myself to consistency and perseverance to achieve this feat.”
Herein lies the true genius of Nguyen's talents–the proclamation not of inherent mathematical aptitude, but of dedication, discipline, and the grit to strive towards the achievement of an ambition. This type of genius is available to us all.
Nguyen no longer chooses to stay sequestered behind a computer screen. Along with picking up new record-breaking hobbies, he has traded the computer games for a table tennis paddle. He’s got a mean serve. He is currently applying to Seventh-Day Adventist universities that offer majors in computer engineering. His shortlist includes Walla Walla University, Union College, and Andrews University. He attributes his decision to pursue this major due to his enjoyment of mathematical thinking, analyzing problems, and crafting solutions. After setting a new LSA record, Nguyen was ready for some actual pie. He settled for lemon meringue.