Irina Viviano has skated through her four years on campus the same way she skates on the ice, with grace, composure and dedication. She has spent the majority of her Wake Forest career within the walls of the Manchester/Kirby building, studying hard, playing board games with friends and completing enough classes to earn her not one, but two Bachelor of Science degrees in both mathematics and in computer science.
In Viviano’s free time, she was president of the Mathematics Club, did research in both major disciplines and picked up figure skating her senior year, a hobby she’d initially found prior to college.
“When I step onto the ice, it’s like all of the stress of academics, the rest of the world, disappears,” she said. “I’m really glad I had the opportunity to join the club at Wake, it’s something I really enjoy doing.”
While she originally planned to major in economics, Irina discovered her love for math after taking Linear Algebra with Professor Sarah Raynor, a class she still credits as being an all-time favorite for its atmosphere and for the teaching style.
“The class didn’t feel dry at all, it was extremely collaborative,” Viviano said. She also particularly enjoyed an art history class she took her sophomore year with Professor Bernadine Barnes.
After completing her mathematics major by the end of her junior year, she used her senior year to complete a second major in computer science, an interest she developed after realizing the use of overlapping the two subjects.
“Irina has been incredibly independent in her research — she identified her own project by asking an insightful question during a research group meeting, and the project led to summer research and her computer science honors thesis,” said Grey Ballard, a professor in the computer science department. “Working with a student like Irina is what makes academic research fun.”
When she was focusing on her mathematics major, Irina particularly enjoyed the pure mathematics aspects of the field. However, after shifting focus to complete the computer science degree, she realized that she began to better appreciate applied mathematics as well.
“As her mentor, I found it quite interesting that both her mathematics and computer science senior projects (yes, she did one for each major) have a significant component belonging to the other discipline,” said Dr. Frank Moore, of the Department of Mathematics. “Her smile and enthusiasm for mathematics will be missed by the department.”
Originally from Ukraine, Irina and her family moved to North Carolina when she was a child. Despite living in the U.S. for the majority of her life, Viviano loves traveling and learning new languages. She can hold a conversation in Russian and Chinese, and has studied Korean, Italian, Spanish, Norwegian and French as well.
“My background is a really important part of my identity, so even though I’ve lived here for a long time, it’s still my roots and I work really hard so that I don’t forget them,” Viviano said.
Her ability to speak a bit of Chinese came in handy her freshman year, when she was paired with roommate Yue Wen Qian. The pair worked so well together, they continued to room together the following three years.
“We both had the same dedication to our classes, and got along really well,” Viviano said. “I feel lucky to have had such a good roommate pairing.”
Viviano’s favorite memories on campus include sitting on the quad, perusing the Media Room of the library and spending time with friends.
After graduating, Viviano plans to get her Masters in Computer Science from the very same department she’s grown to love, right on campus. After that, she hopes to move to Europe for her career and to expand on her love for travel.
“While on campus I grew a lot as a person, and came to realize what’s important to me,” Viviano said of her time here. “I’m looking forward to meeting more people in the computer science department next year.”