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Jess Burchfield

"Studying math at Naz gave me the opportunity to hone analytical skills that have become so important in my day-to-day life at work. While I haven’t been required to prove I can find the area under a curve or that the square root of 2 is irrational, my problem solving skills allow me to confidently tell my supervisors and colleagues that while I may not know something off the top of my head, I can most definitely figure it out.  I am trainable.  I am able to work through complicated situations, address details while still maintaining the importance of the big picture, and then provide solutions in a meaningful way.  This can be directly tied back to my time at Naz as a math major—we developed frameworks that we molded to fit each problem a little differently and step-by-step thought processes that created a logical problem solving way of thinking."

 

"Here’s a very important thing I’ve learned: People hire math majors because of the way they think.”  When I develop a question or an argument for a way of thinking, others wonder why I analyzed completely differently than they did. There really is a distinct difference and unless you’re surrounded by people who are not mathematicians, you don’t realize it.  We are able to problem solve by stepping through what we know, figuring out what we don’t know, and coming to a logical conclusion based on facts.  These skills are taken for granted too often.  This way of thinking is not as common as it may seem.  And it happens naturally during math classes that require understanding logic, set theory, proof-writing, and algebra."

 

"Nazareth gave me a great sampling of the different aspects that make up life.  It was a safe environment for me to explore my options and have mini-adventures.  I was able to delve into Philosophy, pick up a foreign language, travel abroad, realize what I didn’t like or want to do with my life, and develop some of the healthiest and most important relationships in my life.  I was able to really grow into myself on a personal, social, and educational level.  Having small classrooms and being able to develop close relationships with professors is something that is irreplaceable in my opinion, providing the necessary resources for students during their career at Naz, but also perpetuating ongoing relationships after college for things like references, networking, and speaking opportunities.  Naz was, and continues to be, a great life-choice."

 
"My advice for current and prospective mathematics majors:

You’re smart, analytical, and you will be successful. Pair math with something that interests you—even if it doesn’t seem to be directly applicable. Be open minded about careers and the fields you might end up in. Do an internship (this is how a lot of people get their first jobs). When you get hired, you get trained for your position, and begin making career moves from there.

Be confident. Show your potential employers that you can hold your own. Don’t be afraid to take measured risks—this is something that sets you apart from others.  You are able to look at a situation and weigh the pros and cons in a way that others might not.  If the benefits offset the risks, give it a shot.  You’re young enough to recover from any blows early on in your career, and it’s always just as helpful to know what you don’t want as what you do want."

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