Britney Johnson didn’t intend to be a math major. Then, as a sophomore, she took a math class and rediscovered how much she enjoys this discipline. That was it. Since then she has been working on her bachelor of science degree in mathematics with a specialty in actuarial studies.
Like any discipline, math can be challenging, and Britney remembers grappling with some tough concepts in her linear algebra course. “Halfway through the semester I was having such a hard time that I considered dropping the course. My professor asked me to come talk with him during office hours. He ended up spending lots of time helping me understand the work. I also got some help in the Center for Student Learning and from a friend who happened to be pretty knowledgeable about this topic. Eventually, I did pretty well in the class.”
Britney doesn’t remember exactly how it happened, but at some point she signed up for a statistics course and really enjoyed the material. “I’ve never seen myself as someone who would take to statistics, and I can’t explain why I just fell in love with it. Maybe it was a combination of the professor’s style and the way she presented the material that really appealed to me. She relied a lot on student interaction and there were daily quizzes to keep us all on track. She used discussion to keep us engaged in class, and she went over the material a lot.” All of that, Britney says, just made statistics jump to life.
“I really like taking math classes here,” she says, “mostly because they’re small, particularly when you get into the more advanced levels. For me, math is a good fit and it’s good preparation for my future. Before I got into the major, I had a limited view of it. I thought it could only lead to becoming a math professor or teacher. Then, I went through the catalog and learned more about it and realized that there was an actuarial track, which can prepare you to work in the insurance industry. That’s the part of math that I really enjoy.”
As her studies continue, Britney hopes to land an internship to broaden her experience in the actuarial world. “I think working in the insurance field is what I’d like to do eventually. Getting there will be worth the hard work, because I’ll end up doing a job that I love.”
Mathematicians and statisticians are employed in government, education, industry, research, business, health care, finance and the non-profit sector. Along with actuaries, they’re always among the highest ranked professions in the Jobs Rated Almanac. At the College, math majors are taught to think rationally, analyze complicated situations and handle abstraction. Our professors – many of them recognized experts in cutting edge math research – assist students in developing independent research opportunities. Through bachelor’s essays, independent studies and summer research projects, our students are able to distinguish themselves by investigating an area of special interest in depth or by assisting faculty in their research.
- Our classes are small, so that students can receive personalized attention.
- Majors choose from one of five tracks: actuarial studies, applied math, pure math, statistics, and secondary teacher education.
- An active colloquium series includes invited speakers, faculty research presentations, undergraduate presentations, teaching seminars, and talks specifically for students.
- The Math Club is committed to increasing and broadening mathematical knowledge by sponsoring various enjoyable mental excursions.
- Student projects include real math research, offering experience and the opportunity to publish findings in professional journals before graduation.