After graduating from Sewickley Academy in 2009, Thomas ''Todd'' Norton spent a year in Germany as part of a youth exchange program, staying with a German family while honing his language skills and attending an extra year of high school.
In the fall, Mr. Norton, 23, will be off to Germany again, but this time he is headed to the Technical University of Dresden as a Fulbright scholar to study the field of probability.
Mr. Norton, of Upper St. Clair, graduated May 21 from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and physics and a master’s degree in mathematics.
''I found out math is more satisfying,“ he said. ”Once you know the math, you can still do the physics but so much more.'' He earned all A’s in college.
Academic record and foreign language preparation are factors in the selection process for the Fulbright program, the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and supported by cooperating foreign governments.
Established in 1946, it awards about 8,000 grants annually.
During his 10 months abroad, Mr. Norton will work as a research assistant. He will study a type of analysis that, unlike standard modeling, can more accurately predict such things as population growth or weather over time, he said.
''You can predict not only what a population will be a year from now, but also the probabilities the population will deviate from that prediction,'' he said.
The scholarship will cover airfare and a monthly living stipend.
In fall 2015, he will begin studies in the mathematics doctorate program at California Institute of Technology with a goal of becoming a mathematics professor.
Mr. Norton is the son of Brenda Harris and Thomas W. Norton, both of Upper St. Clair. He lived in Bethel Park until he was 14 when his family moved to Upper St. Clair. He attended Sewickley Academy for grades 6-12, during which he was assigned to study German.
''I took it for six years and liked it,'' he said.
In addition to the educational component of his year abroad, Mr. Norton is looking forward to being back in Germany and exploring elsewhere.
''It has a fantastic train system that will take you anywhere in Germany and Europe,“ he said. ''Dresden is on the border of Poland and the Czech Republic and I've never been to either.’’
Until then, he will be doing yard work.
''My dad has a big yard and big plans for that yard,'' he said.
Margaret Smykla, freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.