[Y HMC?] with Professor Breznay

Today is the last day of April and the final day to accept admissions to most colleges, marking the perfect ending for our series [Y HMC?]. We began this series with Professor Dato and since then have heard from Mudders of various majors, classes, interests, and with their own personal reasons for [Y] they chose [HMC]. As we celebrate the end of decision season with one last post, we visit with Mudd alum and professor of physics, Prof Breznay. He graduated from Mudd in 2002 and returned as a professor last school year. Breznay was introduced to HMC in the fourth grade when taking a field trip to the Smithsonian where Harvey Mudd Professor Arthur Benjamin was performing a Mathamagic show. Breznay recalls being extremely excited and even bringing a calculator along to see if he could keep up.

Nicolas Breznay

Professor Breznay, class of 2002

Some 8 years later, Breznay began receiving junk mail from all sorts of colleges. Mudd’s stood out to him because it was the only one which explicitly labeled itself “Junk Mail”. He spoke with friends and family about the school, receiving high recommendations that it may be a good fit for him since he was looking for a small STEM school. He visited in March, and as a D.C. native, Breznay remarks that the weather was almost enough to sell the school to him. At the time, Prof Breznay knew a Mudd frosh that graduated from his high school who was kind enough to show him around. He recalls it seeming like an exotic school compared to the east coast schools he knew and “stopping to think, this is the place. It’s small and has awesome math and science.”

As a student, Breznay’s favorite thing about Mudd were friends that he made through activities like participating on the ultimate frisbee team, a 5C athletic club. Prof Breznay says he enjoyed getting to know students from the different colleges and taking awesome humanities courses at the different schools. He recommends visiting the other campuses if you have the opportunity. Breznay also enjoyed doing research with Professor Donnelly, who is now his coworker. Breznay says that his experiences as a student at Mudd made “science come alive” and he was “impressed and humbled and excited”.

After graduating, Breznay says he wanted to come back because he knew that at HMC “there are awesome students and outstanding faculty”. Breznay says that Mudd was always on his radar as a place to work because it provides the space to “do world class scholarship, have an active lab, be productive, and also have the expectation of being an outstanding teacher.” Breznay advises prospective students not to be shy and to send follow up emails to HMC professors, who “always enjoy engaging with people and discussing life after Mudd, job opportunities, and graduate school”, something you don’t find at most schools.