Abby Pekoske ’13 has always wanted to be a mathematician. Studying math at Carthage is the first step toward achieving her dream.
Abby came to Carthage for three reasons: the program’s rigor, the College’s prestige, and the one-on-one mentoring relationships between students and professors.
“The professors are all amazing,” she said. “As a math student, you don’t just have one adviser whom you see once a semester before registration; you have an entire department willing to guide you through college.”
Since starting at Carthage, Abby has been filling her summers with intensive math programs and research experience. During the summer of 2011, she participated in the Carleton College Summer Mathematics Program for Women (SMP), funded by the National Science Foundation. “I was lucky enough to be one of the 18 women chosen to participate,” Abby said. “Here I formed a community of mathematically enthusiastic women, from students like myself, to SMP alumni who are now successful professors and researchers.”
SMP is a four week, math intensive experience that consists of 8-10 hours of math a day and two group research projects presented during the last week. During the program, Abby was introduced to two graduate-level math courses: P-adic Analysis and Lie Theory. “I presented my work on p-adic analysis at the regional Mathematical Association of America conference at MSOE last spring,” Abby said.
During the summer of 2012, Abby participated in a math Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) at Texas A&M University. “I worked with Dr. David Kerr and studied topological dynamics over the free group, and I also worked with an A&M grad student, Ryan Hotovy, and two other students in the REU on binary frames and coding theory.” Specifically, she worked on the Classification of Parseval Frames in Z_2^n by Transmission Error. She presented her results from this project at the Joint Math Meeting in San Diego this past January.
Abby hopes to get her Ph.D. in mathematics and become a math professor. “I would love to teach at a liberal arts college. Carthage’s Mathematics Department has provided me with the kind of background education I need to be successful in graduate school, and Carthage in general has given me opportunities to learn the teaching and life skills required to succeed in a liberal arts environment,” she said.
For anyone believing that math is just formulas and number crunching, Abby can prove you wrong. “As you advance in math, you start to see that the subject requires complex abstraction and creativity,” she said.
“I always seem to find that the material I’m learning in one class helps me with another.”
“I hope to get my Ph.D. in mathematics and become a math professor.”
How have Carthage faculty had an impact on your life or Carthage career?
“I honestly have no idea. I’ve loved every math class I’ve had, and each math professor has given me invaluable advice.”
“Real Analysis has by far been my favorite class and also my toughest class. I loved its intensity. I would put everything I had into every assignment, and I felt like I actually earned my grade in that class. Every student in our math department knows it is a huge deal to say that you survived Real Analysis.”
Favorite moments and memories at Carthage
“I love the Pi Mu Epsilon banquets. Here, you get to interact with your professors and other math students, play fun math games, make cheesy jokes that the majority of the room understands, and enjoy other secret math-related activities.”
Favorite spot on campus
“I love to sit on the rocks overlooking the lake. The experience is so serene. It’s a wonderful place to decompress.”
Biggest surprise so far
“I didn’t expect every subject to complement another. No matter how diverse my course schedule is, I always seem to find that the material I’m learning in one class helps me with another.”
Why should other students consider your major? What advice do you have for them?
“You get out of your classes what you put into them. Take advantage of every opportunity, because you never know which will lead to your next passion.”