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Mathematics in the spotlight: Olympic scholarship winners’ journeys

In 2019, Ecole normale supérieure launched the Olympic scholarship program with the aim of recruiting the best international talent for its mathematics department. Thanks to the support of several Foundation patrons, including ENS alumni, the school has welcomed four International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) winners since the program began.

“Welcoming young students from all backgrounds to the mathematics department is a tremendous opportunity for the entire graduating class. The winners of the Olympic scholarship program are of an exceptional scientific level and are destined to do research in fundamental mathematics or in interaction with other sciences. The friendships made during the first year of integration are important international bridges for the future,” explains Ariane Mézard, Professor in the Mathematics Department at the ENS.

The program consists of identifying IOM winners at post-baccalaureate level, and offering them a five-year training program comprising:

  • a half-scholarship (500€/month) during their first two years of mathematics studies in their home country, or at the Lycée Louis-le-Grand in Paris with French classes;
  • a scholarship (1,000€/month) during their three years of study at ENS;
  • Individualized support with an ENS tutor who will follow Olympic scholarship holders from the moment they arrive in France.
  • Scholarships and admission to the ENS are conditional on achieving a certain level of excellence in mathematics at the end of the first two years of study.

Benjamin Jacquard (S, 1991), a patron of the program, is delighted with its tangible impact on the diversification and internationalization of the mathematics department: “The ENS is one of the best environments in the world for training the brightest researchers of their generation. In a highly competitive international environment, finding such talent is a complex task. Through the Olympic scholarships, I’m delighted to be facilitating recruitment for the Mathematics Department on a global scale, and thus contributing to the school’s reputation.”

Over the course of the 2023-2024 academic year, three Olympic scholarship holders are taking classes at Ecole Normale Supérieure or Lycée Louis-le-grand. They tell us about their journey and why they chose the Ecole normale supérieure:

” Since September 2023, I’ve been a student at Lycée Louis-le-Grand, where I study mathematics and French, as well as a few classes at ENS. This allows me to interact with students of a very high level, so it’s a very stimulating study environment. The teachers are also very present, and the ENS provides archives and resources that enable me to go further on the subjects that interest me. This program gives me the opportunity to develop my skills to a level beyond my expectations. For me, as someone who wants to become a mathematician, this is a unique opportunity. “


Truang Nghia
Truang Nghia
21, Vietnam. Olympic scholarship holder and gold and silver medalist (International Mathematical Olympiad 2020 and 2021)

” I chose to apply to Ecole normale supérieure because of the wide variety of mathematical fields that are developed there, and because the ENS is the place through which many mathematicians have passed. I was admitted to the ENS when I was in my final year of high school, after which I spent a year in a preparatory class at Lycée Louis-le-Grand. During this time, my ENS tutor Ariane Mézard and Nicolas Tosel from Lycée Louis-le-Grand mentored me and helped me integrate in France. I hope that my studies at the ENS and the wide variety of courses on offer will help me find what I want to do in the future. “

Bulgaria. Olympic scholarship holder and four-time gold and silver medallist (International Mathematical Olympiad between 2019 and 2022)

” It was Ngo Bao Chau, a mathematician and ENS alumnus, who advised me to apply for this program. I was convinced not only by the level of excellence and reputation of the school, but also by the scholarship program, which enables me to live comfortably and therefore devote myself fully to my studies. I entered the ENS in September 2023. The standards are higher than in Vietnam, which pushes me to aim for excellence in this discipline. In my opinion, being a student at the ENS will also be a real springboard for my career. “

20, Vietnam Olympic scholarship holder and gold and silver medalist (International Mathematical Olympiad 2020-2022)
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