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Senior Showcase

Thank you for participating in our Undergraduate Senior Showcase. The Oklahoma State University Department of Mathematics is proud of you and your accomplishments and we want to recognize you for your achievements!


Your answers provided in the survey will be showcased in the Undergraduate Math Majors display case across from 428 Mathematical Sciences.


  • Juli Cannon from Shawnee, OK

    What inspired you to pursue a degree in mathematics?
    During high school, I participated in a Pre-Engineering program that included Calculus I and II. The teacher of these classes, an OSU alum, was the first person who talked about math as something other than a chore. She had passion for a subject which so few do and I thoroughly enjoyed her class and fell in love with the gratification that mathematics had to offer. Majoring in math really didn't cross my mind until orientation! I was looking at the different 4-year plans and realized that I would pretty much be done with math classes for the rest of my life if I chose anything else. Discontent with that option, I went ahead and signed up for a math major and never looked back.


    What was your favorite math class at OSU and why?
    I really loved Introduction to Cryptography, MATH 4753. I have a computer programming minor, so it was lovely to get to see the marriage of complex mathematics and simple programming used to encrypt-- and sometimes decrypt-- vital information. Also bringing up RSA encryption and its overwhelmingly widespread use is a great comeback for the age old "what do I need math for in my everyday life for" comment. Dr. Fili also did a great job of trying to make an incredibly dense subject-- full of programming, ciphers and proofs-- digestible. If you're up for a challenging but entirely rewarding course, 10/10 would recommend.


    Who is your favorite math instructor at OSU and why?
    I had the pleasure of taking 3 courses with Dr. Mantini. She is an incredible professor and I can't say enough good about her. Not only does she have an incredible knack for making intimidating material digestible, she is spectacularly kind and sensitive to students' needs. Dr. Mantini exudes intelligence while maintaining a light-hearted personality, which makes her easily approachable. She cracks jokes in class and I've never seen a professor have quite so much success garnering in-class participation. I had her in person and online, I was shocked at how well she was able to hold my attention via recorded lectures with her amazing education and quite funny anecdotes. If I had to pick one of her classes to recommend (that I've taken) I would say Introduction to Analysis, Math 4023. It was a really great experience.


    Any advice to the younger generation of OSU math majors?

    My best advice would be to not be intimidated by proof-based courses. At least for me, I was always heard how scary and hard they were. I totally love proofs after just a few courses. Writing a proof feels like climbing a mountain, not knowing if you're headed to the top and then before you even realize, you're at the peak looking at the best view. Or like watching the last piece of a jigsaw puzzle satisfactorily click into place after hours of frustration. I totally regret not taking more and may just have to enroll in some graduate classes. 

    Also, don't be feel bad about feeling stupid sometimes. No one gets every question in class right or 100s on every assignment. Math is hard and its a lot harder if you're too embarrassed to ask questions.


    What's next for you?
    Currently I'm working as a web designer, but may switch to a more analytics-heavy position after I graduate. I'm tentatively considering grad school, because just like when I finished high school, I'm not content knowing that this semester could be the last math class I ever take when I've barely scratched the surface of all that mathematics has to offer. I'm looking forward to a little bit of a break after graduation as I've been speeding through a math degree for 3 years.

  • Cort Vanzant from Stillwater, OK

    What inspired you to pursue a degree in mathematics?

    I asked myself, "why not?"


    What was your favorite math class at OSU and why?

    I quite like Intro to Abstract Algebra (MATH 3613), mainly because it introduced me to a method of thinking about mathematics that was entirely new to me.


    Who is your favorite math instructor at OSU and why?

    I don't have a favorite, and I've had a great experience with all of my math instructors.


    Any advice to the younger generation of OSU math majors?

    Set a personal bedtime.


    What's next for you?

    A fifth year of undergrad.

  • Amanda Gibson from Raleigh, NC

    What inspired you to pursue a degree in mathematics?

    When deciding this degree, I was inspired by a wonderful teacher I had when I moved to the Dallas, Texas area. I went from moving around in schools that were not so great in North Carolina to a school in Texas that was very academically challenging. She taught me the beauty behind math and how it can be done, she believed in me when I didn't believe in myself, and I fell in love with problem solving.


    What was your favorite math class at OSU and why?

    My favorite math class I took was Introduction to Math Modeling (MATH 3583) because you apply all sorts of mathematical knowledge to look at real life statistical problems. I also had an amazing project group!


    Who is your favorite math instructor at OSU and why?

    My favorite math instructor is Dr. Mantini because she is brilliant and will always push her students. Her knowledge of the history behind concepts makes learning interesting. She WANTS her students to learn.


    Any advice to the younger generation of OSU math majors?

    My advice? Do. Not. Give. Up. - simple as that. I have been faced with challenging situations and people who did not believe in me, and I will probably continue to be faced with them (reality is we all will). However, stay focused on YOUR goals and do not compare yourself to others - because even that one kid that seems "smarter" has weaknesses because we are all human. Talk to your professors, TALK TO PEOPLE IN YOUR CLASSES. Never hesitate to ask for help and focus on what you are working towards when you feel down. This is a hard challenging degree and you got it, because things are only as impossible as you let them be!


    "I changed my mind. I'd pick the dangerous one because I'm not scared of a challenge." -Elle Woods (Legally Blonde)


    What's next for you?

    I recently accepted a part-time position as an Actuarial Analyst, and I am transitioning to full-time working in OKC when I graduate! I also plan on getting a nice gym membership to continue my fitness journey and do things I love.

  • Collin Bazzell from Mustang, OK

    What inspired you to pursue a degree in mathematics?

    My high school geometry textbook. It was unlike anything I had ever seen. A fantastical journey beginning with a few "axioms" that grew into a massive network of puzzles and insights. I was hooked.


    What was your favorite math class at OSU and why?

    I couldn't pick just one favorite, but some highlights were:


    4023 - Intro to Analysis: Dr. Oehrtman led us through a discussion-based rediscovery of the foundations for real analysis. It was awesome.


    4813- Groups and Representations: Full of exciting mathematical machinery. I find it incredible how much depth there is, given the (seemingly) simple starting point.


    4423 - Geometry/Algorithms in 3D Modeling: All sorts of cool mathematical tools and opportunities to be creative.


    Who is your favorite math instructor at OSU and why?

    They've all been amazing.


    Any advice to the younger generation of OSU math majors?

    General strategies for proof-based courses:


    Go to sleep at night. Eat healthy. Go for walks. Ride your bike. Explore the campus. Find a quiet spot. Take a break now and then.


    What's next for you?

    I would love to go to grad school. For now, I'll focus on finishing undergrad.

  • Zoe Goldade from Murphy, TX

    What inspired you to pursue a degree in mathematics?

    My freshman year I was originally a Civil Engineering major and I very quickly realized I was not cut out to be an engineering major, but I did not want to give up on the problem solving aspect that initially attracted me to engineering. While deciding which degree I should switch to I saw Actuarial and Financial Mathematics. My dad has a math degree and worked in an actuarial firm after graduation, he is my number one inspiration, and after doing research I knew this was the degree I wanted. I enjoy problem solving and bridging the real world and mathematics together. I don't necessarily enjoy math as much as other people pursing a math degree. I do enjoy pushing myself to accomplish things I once thought were too hard and putting my problem solving skills to work while doing so.


    What was your favorite math class and why?

    My favorite math class I have taken at OSU is Linear Algebra. It was the first math class that I felt I really belonged in and that I understood. After being in so many Calculus classes, I missed taking an algebra based class, so this class was perfect for me. As nerdy as it sounds, I always enjoyed doing homework in that class, even if it was over a concept I didn't fully understand.


    Who is your favorite math instructor at OSU and why?


    Dr. Mantini is one of my favorite math professors. Whenever enrollment rolls around I always look to see which classes she is teaching and if they are a part of my degree plan. It is very easy to see that she wants her students to learn and understand the concepts and whenever she asks you a question that you don't know the answer to, she pushes you to think until you figure out the answer. The first time this happened to me I was very scared and nervous, but over time, I really learned to appreciate her teaching style. She is also a very understanding professor, she understands that we are humans just like her and are not always going to be perfect. She is also extremely passionate about math and that mindset is very infectious, which helped motivate me to go to class and understand the concepts she was teaching us.


    Dr. Mills is another one of my favorite professors. I had her for Abstract Algebra, which was a course I previously withdrew from. The way she explained the concepts was drastically more helpful than the previous time I took Abstract Algebra. She has a way of boiling down very abstract concepts into simple examples that helps support the abstract version of the concept. She is also very passionate about her students and wants them to succeed. The same applies to how understanding she is of her students.


    Any advice to the younger generation of OSU math majors?


    My advice to the younger generation of OSU math majors, is to have leniency with yourself and that it is okay to not always get the grade you originally wanted. 


    Set a designated day of the week to take a break and decompress, this will be extremely beneficial for your mental health. 


    Buy a planner, your course work will be much more digestible when you can plan out your week and seeing it written down helps alleviate anxiety. 


    Make friends with the people in your math classes, chances are you will be seeing them for the remainder of your degree. It is nice to have friends who are also struggling with you and friends who can help you out when needed, but also make friends outside of your major, so you are not constantly reminded of your courses.


    What's next for you?


    I am currently searching for a job in the Analyst/Consulting world of business. I want to use both of my analytical solving skills and business knowledge. Working as a financial consultant/analyst is a perfect fit for that. 


    At some point I would like to get a graduate degree in Business Analytics. Learning is something that I value deeply and having the opportunity to further enhance my skills is something I want to achieve. Plus, who doesn't want to say that they have a masters degree.

  • Jaiden Hughes from Tulsa, OK

    What inspired you to pursue a degree in mathematics?

    My high school experience heavily influenced my desire to explore college through a mathematical lens. I’ve always known that I prefer computation over comprehension, so this was an opportunity to lean into my proclivity for math.


    What was your favorite math class at OSU and why?

    - Math Interest Theory with Dr. David Wright: MATH4453

    - Math Modeling with Dr. Lisa Mantini: MATH3583


    Math Interest Theory contains relevant content that I continue to use throughout my finance concentration and personal life. The course also introduced me to the financial calculator. I remember absolutely despising the calculator when I first used it, but now I have a financial calculator app on my phone to bring around with me wherever I go! 


    Math Modeling connected a lot of dots for me. I enjoyed getting to implement mathematical problems to real-world situations. The class had a low stress atmosphere and was the first class that I took that really acquainted me with other math majors.


    Who is your favorite math instructor at OSU and why?

    Ranked in no particular order:
    - Dr. Lisa Mantini
    - Dr. David Wright
    - Dr. Xu Zhang
    - Dr. Jay Schweig

    The most memorable moments I have during their classes were off-scripted and come from them sharing their personal experiences. Our math department is equipped with some of the most substantial, life changing stories that have had a powerful effect on my own professional journey. I wish I could have gotten the opportunity to have every professor in the math department just for this very reason.


    Any advice to the younger generation of OSU math majors?

    - Internship interviews start in the FALL
    - Look into a 4+1 program 
    - Attempt your homework without looking at your class notes
    - Attendance is crucial and will ultimately avail the retention of the material


    What's next for you?

    If academia paid a substantial amount more, I wouldn’t hesitate to go into teaching. I have had a rewarding experience as a Learning Assistant for our Math Department under Dr. Allison Dorko. I am pursuing a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) here at Oklahoma State to complement my analytical skills and develop soft skills to further prepare me as a business professional in the finance realm.


    Anything else you'd like to add?

    I realize I chose them and they didn't choose me, but I feel incredibly thankful to be a part of the math department. I look forward to seeing my peers excel in their fields and what they will go on to achieve.

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