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A former Marine Corps aviation mechanic tackles coding and calculus

This story is the fourth in a series of profiles on Stanford’s 2021-22 transfer students. The unique cohort of 60+ undergraduates, who range in age from 18 to 51, brings a multitude of perspectives and life experiences to campus.

(Image credit: Andrew Brodhead)

One of the places Josh Sherwin has gotten to know well since joining Stanford’s cohort of 2021-22 transfer students is the Stanford University Mathematical Organization, better known as SUMO, a by-students-for-students math club open to both math and non-math majors.

The club, which offers peer tutoring to undergraduate and graduate students, is located in the Math Corner in the historic Main Quad, a short bike ride from the home Sherwin shares with his wife, Alma, and infant daughter, Amelia, in Escondido Village.

Sherwin, who served as an aviation support equipment mechanic working for a squadron that flew transport helicopters in the U.S. Marine Corps, has not yet declared a major, but he’s considering economics or management science and engineering.

In addition to calculus, he is studying computer science in two courses: “Want to be an Engineer?” and Programming Methodology, an introductory CS course offered by the School of Engineering.

“I don’t consider myself to be very tech savvy and have never worked with any program more complicated than Microsoft Office,” Sherwin said. “Programming Methodology has taught me the basics of coding. It’s always been a subject I’ve been interested in, but I didn’t know how to get started. This class has been a great opportunity to learn what it’s all about.”

Sherwin, who has been exploring the Farm in a PE running class, was happily surprised by the flexibility and freedom Stanford offers to transfer students to explore different classes, subjects and majors.

“At many other universities, transfer students are bound to the specific major that they chose on their application,” he said. “Coming here and being able to have such a wide range of choices is really something special.”