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Alumni Stories - Columbus State University

Department of Mathematics

Alumni Stories

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Georgia Patterson

Photo of Georgia PattersonGraduated: Spring 2021

I’m Georgia, I studied math at Columbus State University to pursue an actuarial career. The summer going into my junior year I got an internship at Aflac working in ERM- Capital Modeling on their actuarial team. The next year during school I continued to study independently and take my actuarial courses at CSU. (I found the most helpful classes to be intro to actuarial, actuarial regression, theory of interest, and statistics). Going into my senior year I interned at The Hartford in actuarial reserving! During my senior year, I continued to study independently along with my school work, while also working in the tutoring lab. I began applying and interviewing for jobs fall of my senior year. I interviewed at companies like Berkshire Hathaway, Willis Towers Watson, State Farm, and Prudential. I decided to go with KeyBank where I am now working full time! During both of my internships, and in my career, I have leveraged the information I learned in my coursework at school. CSU’s curriculum prepared me well and led me on my path to success. But more than that, my professors and instructors helped me get to where I am today. Through teaching, mentoring, and coaching, CSU helped me reach higher than I ever thought possible. All the late nights studying for Dr. Fan’s calculus, all the office hours with Dr. Almada, all the extra help from Dr. Linton, and all the encouragement from Dr. Muse positioned me for success. If I had to do it over again, I wouldn’t change a single thing.



Jonathon Parker

Photo of Jonathon ParkerTeaching Mathematics: A Career Shift

I launched my career path in teaching mathematics by taking the risky first step of removing myself from the chemicals industry workforce. In that job, I was never much more than a lab technician holding a baccalaureate, earning enough to break even in a city with a high cost of living and tortuous work commute.

The shift between industries was set in motion through an illness in the family, roughly five years after landing my first position in the industry. Unfortunately, with such a degree, five years was not long enough for me to transition into positions that conferred broader skillsets, and my credentials confined me to locations too far away from family to be of much support. Job opportunities that abounded in that larger, more expensive city with the tortuous commute, were almost vanishing in my hometown of Columbus, Georgia, where I was needed.

To me, having larger-city credentials that are ill conducive to living in such a small town seemed like another glaring societal problem ready to be solved. Good or bad as they may have been back then, I had some ideas about how to solve such problems, and I was aware enough of the foundational issues to discern that mathematics could be the fix. So, I braved the departure from the chemicals industry, and shortly after a touchdown in Columbus, I put in an application to Columbus State University (CSU) to prepare myself for the study of math. My ability to follow instructions, along with my fearlessness in asking questions, served me well in such studies.

Photo of Georgia PattersonThey landed me a position as a Peer Leader and Tutor with CSU’s Reading and Learning Center, where I worked with students to help them with their studies in math. It was here, as someone who is not naturally talented in mathematics, that I discovered great joy in teaching others how to break through the anxiety of solving problems. While holding that position for the better part of two years, the family illness that brought me to Columbus passed. However, my drive to solve problems had not. Thus, I finished my stint at CSU by garnering the prerequisites for graduate studies in mathematics. Knowing they were healthy and safe, I left my family to pursue a graduate degree in math at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).

One year later, I returned to Columbus with a Master’s in mathematics and began working as an instructor at Mathnasium, teaching children basic number sense and mathematical reasoning. A few months later, I gained an adjunct position with Georgia Military College (GMC) and teaching College Algebra and Precalculus. Through their Dual Enrollment Program, I began working part-time for St. Anne - Pacelli high school as a teacher in Statistics. I eventually obtained a full-time position with St. Anne, and this year marks the first in which I operate in such a capacity.

The work keeps me on my toes, as nothing is routine about it. Add that to my experiences at CSU and UAB, through courses that trained me to understand math on deeper levels, and I have a career that, on many more occasions than not, brings confidence and novelty, instead of anxiety and routine, to my life. I will say this: such a career demands much of my time, and I meet more professionals than not in this field who have a similar experience. However, this does not stop me from having a life outside of work. I still have time to continue probing the issues that brought me to mathematics. I now view my role as a teacher, fashioning students with the tools they need to think about challenge problems, an important initial step in addressing some of them.

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