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Bill Sonsin is living proof that you will use math in everyday life

sparty and bill sonsin

“When am I ever going to use this?” That’s the decades-old question that math teachers hear from their students.

Bill Sonsin (B.S., mathematics, ’67) is proof that a math education will come in handy at some point in your life.

After four challenging and rewarding years at MSU, which included surviving calculus, Sonsin went on to earn an M.S. in mathematics and computer science from the University of Minnesota. He spent 33 years working first in IT and then in personal financial planning.

He credits his MSU math education with teaching him the analytical skills he successfully used throughout his life—both at work and personally.

“I received a lot of good training in the quantitative side of life—math and computer science,” Sonsin said. “Many of the skills you learn studying math do carry forward. Math is a good subject to help you think, to reason things out in a logical fashion. For instance, my math training helped me immensely in my career—understanding the Internal Revenue Code, how investment markets work and function, how debt works.”

Sonsin feels that the United States faces an ongoing shortage of qualified college graduates in mathematics and related fields, so he wants to do his part to help fill the pipeline.

He desires to give back to his alma mater by sharing his financial success with MSU undergraduates who want to pursue an education in mathematics and related fields but who might otherwise be unable to do so due to financial constraints.

Sonsin established the William J. Sonsin Scholarship in Mathematics with an expendable gift in 2015 and donates annually to support students. He also wants to create a legacy at MSU, so in 2017 he established an endowment via a planned gift through his estate to continue the scholarship in perpetuity.  

“My goal is to help kids go to college—specifically those who want to study mathematics or STEM-related fields,” Sonsin said.

More than 20 students have received the Sonsin scholarship since it was created. This year, the scholarship amount awarded to each individual will be smaller, in order to increase the total number of students being helped.

“About half of the students who need money for college don’t get it,” he said. “I hope my scholarship will help make a difference.”

Sonsin retired in 2001 from his position as senior financial advisor with American Express Co. (now Ameriprise), but remains active in his community in Prescott, Ariz. He currently serves on the Yavapai College Foundation board of directors and finance committee, and the Yavapai Regional Medical Center Foundation board of directors. Earlier in his retirement, he was a counselor for the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) for 15 years and wrote a SCORE column for the Sunday Daily Courier for more than five years.


Published May 24, 2021