Blog by Jordan Brooks
Howdy! I’m a Texas transplant who’s been a high school mathematics teacher for 8 years now. I came into the field in a roundabout way – my undergraduate degree was in geography and I originally planned to teach high school social studies. Well, I quickly learned that in Texas, you’d better be coaching something if you want to teach those courses! Coaching not really being my thing, I settled on teaching my minor – mathematics. A marriage of convenience quickly grew into something I genuinely enjoyed.
I moved up here with my wife when she got accepted into the Cranbrook Academy of Art to pursue a master’s degree in painting, and I soon got degree envy myself! Looking at the options in the area, it seemed that there weren’t many programs willing to accommodate someone like me, who didn’t truly have a background in mathematics. I took exactly 4 math courses as an undergrad, and I like to joke that I got all the grades – A, B, C, and D! Quite frankly, I was an idiot as an undergrad, and my 12-credit hour, 2.5 GPA mathematical journey didn’t exactly meet the minimum standards posted on local program’s websites. However, teaching mathematics through the years taught me an appreciation for the field and opened my mind to a world much bigger than I previously thought.
That’s why it was such a breath of fresh air to attend the Mathematics Open House last year. Through speaking with Dr. McLeman, the program chair, I discovered that it would be possible for someone like me to enroll in a mathematics master’s degree. My undergrad self and I are two very different people, and I’m so thankful I can show that.
I’ve been in the program for one year now, having taken four courses in the afternoons and evenings (it accommodates my job as a teacher!) During that time, I’ve studied under several expert instructors in intimate class sizes. I’ve been able to learn more and more about this field that I love, and I often have the opportunity to share the things I learn with my high school students! It’s hard to put into words, but it’s as if a part of my brain, long dormant, has finally been unlocked. It is a sublime feeling to learn, to be challenged, and to grow.
I also had the opportunity to be a part of a graduate student research assistantship. I’ve always wanted to see what cutting edge mathematical research is like (or even what it is in the first place), and I had the opportunity to dig into some pretty cool stuff that maybe no one else has dug into yet. That’s a neat feeling! Mathematics isn’t dead, as some students may claim – it’s alive and well!
In sum, it’s been a fantastic experience so far, and I would tell anyone on the fence about their decision to take the plunge. Come discover with us!