Alums Discuss Options for Math Majors



The Center for Career Services held a question and answer session Monday entitled “Applying Your Mathematics Concentration to Your Future Career,” featuring four Colgate alumni.

A program in two parts, the session began with a range of questions pertaining to how the alumni had made their decisions to major in mathematics.

“I always loved math in high school. I loved solving problems,” Actuarial Analyst at Mercer Human Resource Consulting Jennifer Mooney ’97 said.

Though the panelists’ individual responses were specific to their own experience, all four expressed a similar passion for critical thinking, problem solving and mathematics.

The moderator of the discussion, Assistant Professor of Mathematics Jennifer Moorhouse, posed a series of questions about the transition from Colgate to either graduate school or a career path.

She further guided the discussion, using the lives of the four alumni as examples of the possibilities and opportunities available for a math major.

Mooney and Visiting Professor Brian Wynne ’98 explained how they applied to graduate schools while David L. Jensen ’77, Chief Technical Architect at the IBM Center for Business Optimization, described how he conducted Internet job searches. Catherine Crocker ’94, Secondary School Instructor at Riverdale Country School, also told her story of teaching at a boarding school for seven years.

“I find it really satisfying that I am impacting somebody’s life in such a positive way,” Catherine Crocker said of her decision to teach mathematics.

According to Wynne, a liberal arts university such as Colgate sparks an interest in research and teaching and is the ideal place to be learning.

All four alumni stressed the unique advantage of having the opportunity to explore many areas before determining a focus in a specific area of interest.

The second part of the session gave the audience the opportunity to ask questions about career paths, traveling options as a math major and the difficult decision of whether to go to graduate school.

“The most important part of graduate school for me was not so much the material I learned, but the challenges I faced,” Mooney said.

Stating that the challenges she faced as a graduate student are helping her with problem solving now, Mooney encouraged students who are considering graduate school to attempt to make it a priority soon after graduation. The other panelists gave similar advice.

After two hours, students walked away with outlines on developing connections outside Colgate and starting a career, as well as a better understanding of what success with a math major means.