Q & A with Helen Harris
There are many different options for your concentration, so you get to pick a type of math that you are most interested in to study in your upper-level classes.
When did you decide you wanted to study math?
When I was in middle and high school, I enjoyed my math classes, but I never thought of it as a possible path for me until I got to college. I had a myth in my head that majoring in math meant you had to become a mathematician and that only geniuses could do that. In my first year at VCU, I was undeclared and taking a lot of general education requirements in all kinds of subjects. After that year, I realized that I really was most interested in my math classes, and through meeting other people who had studied or were studying math, I learned that it was not far-fetched at all, and actually was a good fit for me.
What was one of your favorite classes in your major?
My favorite class taken in my major was Introduction to Mathematical Reasoning because I'm a very logical thinker and the way of manipulating and solving problems in this class was very satisfying to me. I also really enjoyed getting to learn the proofs behind some of the mathematical principles I had learned in my other classes.
Do you have a favorite professor in your department?
My favorite professor in my major was Joe Hamelman because I always appreciated how truly enthusiastic he was about math and how patient he was with his students. He was one of the first professors I had at VCU and he showed me how fun and interesting math can be, which is one of the reasons I decided to be a math major.
What other math activities are you involved in?
I currently work as a math tutor for VCU Student-Athlete Support Services. I actually got the job because they were looking for math majors to apply. Working there has been amazing because I get to use my love of the subject to help other people better understand it.
Why should a student major in mathematics?
Math is a very diverse field with lots of different applications and opportunities. There are many different options for your concentration, so you get to pick a type of math that you are most interested in to study in your upper-level classes. I also know other students in my major that have done research with VCU mathematics faculty. Additionally, the size of the department and classes gives math majors lots of opportunities to get to know and work with their professors and classmates, which really enhanced my experience here.