• YEAR: Freshman
  • MAJOR: Actuarial Science
  • HOMETOWN: Little Rock, Arkansas

Elliot Mathieu

Mention the concept of Utopia to this student and a philosopher emerges. He loves to think about, write about and talk about ideal societies and political systems. He also loves to crunch numbers, which he'll do while studying actuarial science, a discipline that he hopes will marry his interests in debate, math and science. During an internship with an EEOC lawyer over the summer, Mathieu got a taste of debate in a courtroom setting. The son of Haitian immigrants, his interests also extend to French language and creative writing. The name of his fictitious autobiography says it all: "Pursue Perfection Achieve Excellence - A Motto to Live By."

Light reading

"If I had an hour to spend any way that I wanted, I would get George Orwell (Eric Blair) and Yevgeny Zamyatin together to sit down and discuss with me their thoughts on the utopian model, specifically if all utopias are doomed to fall into dystopia," he says. "Maybe I'd throw Sir Thomas More in the mix as well, just for kicks. Also, I'd like Zamyatin, Orwell, Kurt Vonnegut and Aldous Huxley to talk about the effect of technology on society. OK, maybe I'd need more than an hour, but I think what they'd say would be truly fascinating."

Active imagination

He studied violin and plays the piano, but recently discovered another art form -- creative writing, exercising his artistic muscle in his admissions essay for Purdue. In his mind, his future as a Boilermaker was sealed:

"... After I graduated from Purdue 79 years ago, started my own company and sold it off to become the first trillionaire the world has ever seen, started a social networking website that put Facebook out of business with Twitter falling shortly thereafter, finished Beethoven's Unfinished Symphony, created a time machine, saw who was on the grassy knoll, destroyed the time machine for the good of humanity, broke the laws of physics and received a fine of three hundred joules, mastered alchemy, discovered the meaning of life, and defeated Chuck Norris in arm wrestling, I was sufficiently bored. I then decided to tackle the problem of world peace as a hobby, while mastering telekinesis and incorporating it into a new form of martial arts of my own creation."

Practically speaking

"If I were stuck on a desert island, I'd want a knife, bottles of water, and my iPhone in a solar-powered case (yes, they actually make those)," he says. "The knife would be for emergencies only. You never know what you'd need a knife for, but when you need a knife, you sure wish you'd have one; you usually need them in important situations."

Self-reflection

"If I were writing a book about my life, I would title it, 'Pursue Perfection Achieve Excellence - A Motto to Live By.' I've learned that you shouldn't shoot for what you want; you should shoot for 10 times that. Try doing everything to the best of your ability, and then go back and make it better. Only through trying to be perfect do we achieve excellence," he says.