By Mariana Kerwin | Staff Writer
Dr. Anne Kerian, the new Functions teacher and graduate of Ave Maria University, has returned to her alma mater to teach as Assistant Professor of Mathematics. She describes Ave Maria as “one of the few places where a student can have both things that every educated person had less than a hundred years ago”:
On the one hand, a student is offered the best of Western civilization, making them a part of the conversation about truth, goodness, and beauty that spans space and time, around the globe and throughout millennia. On the other hand, the curriculum leaves room to learn and develop skills in a specialized area of interest. These two academic aspects of the school are undergirded by a strongly supportive Catholic atmosphere. I came here because I want to be a part of offering this incredible opportunity to others.”
Dr. Kerian, originally from North Dakota, attended Ave Maria for undergraduate studies, and then pursued her doctorate at University of Nebraska—Lincoln. She also taught at the University of Nebraska, before coming to Ave Maria this year. During her studies, she says that she first tried math as a major because members of her family had done so. But once she got into it herself, she “discovered the beauty of the subject and the joy of that “aha” moment when what a moment ago was painfully confusing, becomes suddenly clear and simple. I also knew that math is a subject with which you can do almost anything after you graduate. Math classes take your natural ability to think clearly, and expand it. This equips you to give the best of yourself wherever you go, if that’s a job, a marriage, or even religious life.”
This semester, Dr. Kerian is teaching two sections of Functions (Math 150) and one section of Algebraic Structures (Math 310). During our class, she is always friendly with the students and patient with any questions they might have. When asked what her favorite math class to teach has been throughout her six years of teaching at the college level, Dr. Kerian says she prefers to teach students in general and at all levels. You can tell that she is very intelligent, and very dedicated to her field. Her personal specialty in math is research in the study of knots, which are described mathematically as tangled circles in space.
When I stopped by Dr. Kerian’s office for help with Functions, she helped me through each problem slowly and clearly, not giving me the answers but challenging me to find them myself. She relates well to students and is very encouraging. Her advice for students pursuing math is to be patient with themselves when the subject does not come easily, since math takes time and effort. However, “the rewards are worth it…if a student is thinking of studying math but isn’t sure, my advice is to go ahead, take the required classes until you are sure. This is because it’s easy to change from math to another subject, but it’s much harder to change from another subject to math, and until you’ve made a decision there’s really no reason to close the door on yourself.” Welcome back to Ave Maria, Dr. Kerian!
The above text has been adapted from an interview that took place on September 13, 2015 and has been lightly edited for the purposes of this feature.