FDU wiz kid has a hand in everythingCan one person do it all? Math, physics, Greek life, cross-country, acting, music, etc.
Story by Jenny Connell; photo by Dan Landau
Meet Stephen Duckers the poster child for a liberal arts education. This 22-year-old mathematics major and graduating senior from Toms River, N.J. is a true renaissance man. With graduation looming, Duckers is counting down the days while carefully planning out his next steps post-FDU.
“I would like to continue working in theoretical physics, acting, actuarial work, playing the guitar, and when I’m older I want to be a professor,” says Duckers. After transferring in from New Jersey Institute of Technology during spring of his freshmen year, Duckers has made a home here at FDU that includes multiple mentors and helpful resources that have fueled his ever-growing list of passions.
Acting is one of these passions; Duckers has been in a variety of commercials, including, ones for the Bing search engine, Danimals, and the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line. He is also auditioning for roles in new pilots for CBS, Warner Brothers, and Nickelodeon.
AT FDU, Duckers is extremely appreciative of his campus boss, Patricia Geehr, director of academic support, for her support in his acting career. “She is one of the nicest people I have ever met, and she has been helping me out by working around my schedule because she understands the whole acting aspect of my life.”
Over this past spring break Duckers took advantage of the London theater class where he met Stephen Hollis, professor and director of the theater program at FDU. “He was the one who told me to come into the theater because he had a monologue for me to perform, and he just wanted to help me push myself as much as I could, which I really appreciate,” says Duckers.
Besides theater and acting, Duckers is also a musician. For a half hour a week Duckers takes guitar lessons where he explains how he may learn more in that time period from Professor Stephen Girardi, FDU adjunct music professor, than in any of his other courses. “I learn about the fundamental guitar stuff, but then I also ask him about life in general.”
In pursuing his background in mathematics, he has been working with Mark Slaby, associate professor of math at FDU, who introduced Duckers to a lucrative career option that could challenge him: becoming an actuary. “He’s my actuary tutor so I’ve been working with him for about two years now,” says Duckers. “As an actuary I would weigh the impact of different financial risks for a company.”
Other math professors that have been influential are: Kiron Sharma, Robert Mayans, and Javad Namazi. “I have gone to all of them for advice,” says Duckers. “Namazi is like very strict, and he’s the one who encouraged me to apply to graduate school.”
Duckers plans on applying for graduate school for theoretical physics in the next couple of years, but in the meantime he is studying for his actuary exams and giving acting a shot while living with his Alpha Kappa Lambda fraternity brothers in Morristown, N.J.
“This campus is what you make of it,” says Duckers. “I brought Dr. Kalb, my physics professor, some of my theories, and I think he has also studied some of these theories because he gave me this book about theories that I can research into,” adds Duckers. “I want to be one of those people that change the world one day.”
Along with everything else Duckers has going on, he also has been running cross-country for FDU since he transferred. “Do you know that some people at the campus don’t even know that we have a cross-country team,” jokes Duckers. During his junior and senior years Duckers held the highest student athlete GPA, and this past year FDU was recognized for holding the highest GPA overall for student athletes in the Middle Atlantic Conference with Duckers in the lead.
“When people go home on the weekend they are not really trying to meet people, and experiment.” Duckers has made himself very visible on the weekends at FDU, which is apparent in his many ventures.“Sometimes I feel like I need to choose one interest, and I probably should,” explains Duckers. “But, FDU has shown me that I don’t need to choose. I mean who says my interest in theoretical physics won’t aid in my career as an actor?”