Mudita Dhingra, MSMF’12

in Graduate Student Profiles, MSMF Graduate Profiles, Student Profiles
March 27th, 2012

Counting Her Steps

muditaStudents of the School’s Master of Science in Mathematical Finance (MSMF) program are not weak of heart. To take on such a rigorous course of study, you just can’t be.

“A lot of people are scared of math,” says first-year student Mudita Dhingra (MSMF ’12). “But I’m the opposite. I love solving mathematical problems. For a lot of people they’re just numbers, but I love the idea that when you put them to the right use, you can get so much information from them.”

Growing up in New Delhi, India, the daughter of a university professor of Spanish and a World Health Organization (WHO) consultant, Mudita is articulate, driven, and deliberate. She’s goal-oriented and loves to lead. “Leadership experience started early with me, with things like being a class monitor,” she says. “A lot of people might want to run away from those types of responsibilities, but I’ve always enjoyed them.”

At Sri Venkateswara College as a math major, Mudita was in heaven. Not only was she able to focus on math (she was valedictorian of her class one of three years, and among the top three the other two years), but she had the chance to lead the college mathematics association as vice president. She liked organizing math events and spearheading the efforts and overall decision-making of the association. After college, Mudita joined Standard Chartered Bank in Mumbai, as part of wholesale banking, and was actively involved with the bank’s Living with HIV initiative. But she wanted to know more than just front-office finance.

“Because I love being around people, my friends and family thought I would pursue an MBA. But I’m also very detail-oriented and always want to know what’s going on behind the scenes. When I’m quoting a figure to a client, I want to know the math that’s going on behind it. I may get my MBA later, but I want to be strong with my quantitative fundamentals first. My ideal career is to combine my finance and leadership skills with my love for numbers in something like risk management or equity research.” With such goal-oriented interests, you might be wondering what, if anything, Mudita does to relax and have a good time. She did a lot of public speaking and debating in school, but the thing that really took hold of her heart was dance, specifically a classical Indian dance from Tamil Nadu called Bharatanatyam.

“Dance isn’t something I would call a hobby,” she explains. “It’s a passion for me. I started learning Bharatanatyam when I was seven years old. It takes a lot of practice, but that’s my way to relax. I looked forward to it more than anything else, and I got to exercise and learn something amazing at the same time.”

Bharatanatyam, a “story” dance based on ancient myths about Indian gods, requires intense teaching from a guru for many years. It involves many intricate moves and costumes, and a particular set of instruments and style of music.

“I danced for 11 years before my guru, my practiced teacher, felt I had learned it in all its nuances and that I could perform independently and professionally.” Mudita is looking forward to the chance to perform publicly in the United States and, when her busy schedule clears up, she may trade formulas for choreography, at least temporarily.

By Alissa Mallinson