Walker Class of ’24 alum publishes math book

Shawn Cogan, Walker Class of 2024, can add author to his resume with the release of his book “You Can Do Calculus: Math for Anyone.” The 400-page book, which is self-published and available on Amazon, takes readers from basic addition to calculus.

Asked why he wanted to write the book, Cogan, who graduated from Walker with a summa cum laude distinction and will be attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the fall said: “There’s a common denominator when you go up to someone and ask them their least favorite subject and they tell you math. 

“I don’t believe in the concept of people being Math people. I think the idea of being a child prodigy simply means math called to you at a very young age and you got immersed in it because math is one of those rare things where the only limitations on how much you can learn are what you place on yourself. You can really push yourself as far as you want to go, but that’s all on you, so it’s your obligation.”

Cogan said he loves math because “there's never really an end to it, and there’s always something that can be learned. I like the way it can so elegantly describe the world. You can go up to just about anyone, any language they speak, and math is something that can connect people together.” 

Cogan, who came to Walker in ninth grade, is a proud and grateful Jack Kent Cooke scholar. According to its website, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation’s scholarship programs are designed to encourage and support outstanding students who work hard and have financial need. In addition to providing financial assistance and academic support to high school, undergraduate and graduate students Cooke scholarship recipients join a thriving network of nearly 3,200 Cooke Scholars.

Cogan was inspired to write his book after speaking with his Jack Kent Cooke advisor and hearing from Walker alumni who shared their writing experiences. Over the course of a year and a half, Cogan wrote and asked for feedback from Walker’s Math and English teachers.    

Cogan doesn’t call his book a textbook because “it’s more of a narrative. Another thing I don’t like about math education is you learn a bunch of things, but you never really use a lot of it. So I cut the book down to where you feel like you’re using everything you learned.” 

Cogan, who also received a Gates Scholarship “awarded to exceptional student leaders, with the intent of helping them realize their maximum potential,” said he is planning to major in mechanical engineering and possibly minoring in a concentration related to applied math at MIT.

“It was a super dream school,” Cogan said of MIT. “I met that goal that I’ve had since sixth grade, and it’s still surreal to me.”

Cogan said he is grateful to his teachers for helping him grow: “I really am so thankful, especially for the Walker teachers who have shaped me. Coming in here and now a graduate, I’ve definitely seen how much I’ve changed and been influenced by these teachers.”

One might think that writing a book and focusing on his studies would take up all of Shawn’s time, but he also founded and was the president of the Environmental Club, National Honor Society Treasurer, Student Services Organization President, a member of the Math Team, and has been learning piano. 

As far as his plans after college, Cogan said: “It probably will either come down to environmental impact – working to engineer and solve things to make things more sustainable. Because it comes down to the fact Earth isn’t something to tarnish. Or I’ve also been thinking quite a bit about math academic research and education accessibility. I was given tons of opportunities, and I wouldn’t be the person I am today without so many people who helped me along the way. Not only paying that forward but leaving my impact on making it available for more people.”

Cogan said his biggest influences include his parents (Jessica and Thomas Cogan) and  Walker teachers.

“Shawn is a great young man. Kind, thoughtful, very genuine when he asks for suggestions, feedback and advice,” said Rob Holman, Grade Level Dean for the Class of 2024 and one of Cogan's math teachers. “As a student, he is extremely curious about what he likes and is willing to spend an uncommon amount of time and energy satisfying that curiosity.”

When asked about Cogan’s book, Holman said: “To me the most impressive thing about it is how much time it would have taken to write it, create the examples and exercises, format it correctly, etc. He did all that revision and such during this school year, while dealing with the work that he needed to do in order to succeed in his classes. I know that he wrote the bulk of the content before the school year started (he asked me to look at it back in August), but all of the editing, formatting, etc. took place during the school year.”

Cogan also credits the Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship program and others like it.

“So many people have so much talent, and a lot of times it comes down to just not having the resources to develop that,” Cogan said. “The cure for cancer could be in someone who can’t afford to go to college.”

Cogan said his mother has been a big influence particularly with regards to caring for others.

“The way I’ve been raised, my Mom lost her parents when she was a high school senior, which was a very young age for something like that to happen,” he said. “Even through that she has such empathy and wants to help people. She’s raised me with giving back to people.” 

As for Walker, he said “I’m very proud of all the friendships, relationships and the school spirit.

“Being a Walker Wolverine is something that follows you for life.”
  • Main Campus

    700 Cobb Parkway North
    Marietta, GA 30062
  • Primary School

    830 Damar Road
    Marietta, GA 30062
The Walker School is a private, co-ed day school offering opportunities in academics, arts, and athletics for preschool, elementary, middle, and high school students in Metro Atlanta.