Sophomore Riley Burkart is a modern renaissance man—he plays guitar, enjoys drawing, is learning three languages on his own, writes creative fiction and non-fiction and is in a community chorus. And those are just his extracurricular activities. Burkart has four majors at Central: mathematics, physics, history and German.
The Monument, Colo. native is also involved with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and chairs the College Republicans Club. That’s a lengthy activities list for someone who never intended to come to Central.
“I had never heard of Central before,” he says with a laugh. “I was applying to a bunch of out-of-state schools because I wanted to live in a new place. When filling out applications, I looked over and saw the Central application so I filled it out for fun. But then I visited, and I was really impressed by the professors and the campus.”
Not surprisingly, the four-major student has a lot of homework, but he manages to stay on top of things by doing it as soon as it is assigned—then he knows exactly how much free time he has to pursue his other interests. On the side, Burkart is learning ancient Greek, Latin and Arabic (and a little bit of Swedish).
“I usually like to teach myself language through reading the language, especially since Latin is a dead language,” he says with a laugh. “I pick it up very quickly if I read it. I love it when a language has a different script, so I started learning Ancient Greek. I love the connections between languages—especially Greek and Latin. And those are distantly related to German. I love linguistics and how they developed. It fascinates me.”
He loves to learn on his own, but he also enjoys classroom work. And Central makes it easy for him to be involved and get a quality education.
“For my undergraduate career, I wanted to have fun and have an experience I could control,” says Burkart. “I have decided to pursue a pretty intense schedule at Central, but I can still have fun hanging out with my friends.”
This summer, Burkart had a research internship at Kent State University in Ohio, where he is studying with a team about toric codes and lattice point geometry. Thanks to his studies at Central, Burkart is learning more than he imagined.
“I just love to learn,” he says. “My professors at Central are great, and they give me the tools to succeed in and out of the classroom.”
After another few years at Central, Burkhart plans to go onto graduate school. And as of yet, he still isn’t sure what he wants to do with his life. He does have an ambitious bucket list—climb the 53 Fourteeners in Colorado (the mountains above 14,000 feet), earn a Fulbright Scholarship in language in Germany and visit all the continents, just to name a few. Don’t be surprised if you see him running for president of the United States, either. It may not be on his bucket list, but it’s his ultimate dream job.
“I would really like to be leader of a country,” Burkhart says. “There is so much going on with that kind of job, and I don’t like being narrowed down. Central has changed me. It surprises me how quickly college just became life to me. I feel independent and more prepared for a successful future because of the time I have spent here.”