GRADUATES: Make Their Mark - Michelle Voegele '12
Michelle Voegele dreamed of being a lawyer or a doctor but in high school she realized
that she had two true passions – mathematics and helping others.
She learned early that her enjoyment in helping her fellow classmates understand the concepts and lessons being taught in class indicated a career in teaching was in her future. “I chose mathematics because, well, I am a math nerd,” she commented. “It was not until taking Algebra 1 in high school that I knew I was meant to be a high school mathematics teacher. I loved everything about algebra. It was simple to me. Once I worked hard to understand it, I never forgot it.”
At McKendree, Michelle has channeled that same passion for helping others into everything she does. Her involvement as a University 101 peer mentor, new student orientation leader, former resident assistant and student ambassador has enabled her to share her knowledge and experience with current and prospective students. As president of the education honor society Kappa Delta Pi, and as a member of the math club and Sigma Zeta honor society, she had opportunities to network with professionals in her field, learn how to teach abstract algebra concepts with concrete representation, and hone her skills to be a more effective classroom manager.
“Being able to converse with other mathematicians has been great for furthering my understanding of the mathematics concepts I will be teaching,” said Michelle.
Two of her most memorable moments at McKendree include being crowned Homecoming Queen last October and being a founding member of the Theta Gamma Chapter of Sigma Sigma Sigma. Michelle has been instrumental in the early success of the university’s first national sorority, having served as its vice president, alumnae relations chair, and national hazing prevention liaison.
“The experience taught me about perseverance, loyalty, hard work, maintaining professionalism, communication skills and how to be a more effective leader,” she said. “I have also become a more well-rounded person and I use my newly acquired skills every day when I am student teaching.”
At McKendree, every math major is required to do a senior thesis project. Michelle worked with fellow math major Melinda Bayer on a project using graph theory. “We focused mainly on Hamiltonian graphs and more specifically, the ‘traveling salesman problem’.”
The problem states that a salesman has to travel to a number of other cities and return home via the shortest possible route. It assigns weights to each possible path and uses a recursion formula to derive the best choice.
“We chose the topic because it has real meaning in today's world and deals with making transportation more efficient. The project really opened my eyes to just how relevant mathematics is to everyday life. It can be seen in the delivery route of a postman, the timing of a stop light, and so much more.”
As a mathematics teacher she aspires to be a good role model by molding her students into strong critical and logical thinkers and teaching them more than what a textbook lesson presents. She has put her problem solving and mentoring skills to work as a student teacher this semester. “I had an Algebra 2 student who was struggling with the material. The student came to see me every morning before school for one week. At the end of the week was a quiz over all the material. I felt so proud when the student got 100 percent on the quiz. To know that I helped the student achieve that goal was awesome.
“McKendree has cultivated in me the need to learn from others,” Michelle continued. “The most important part of our education is not the grade received but the information we take from the lesson and how the class has impacted us. If we can learn one thing from our coursework that makes us better individuals, then we have excelled.”
“I know at the end of the day that I worked endlessly throughout college and I tried to get as much out of the experience as possible. McKendree has impacted my life in such a positive and lasting manner that I cannot help but feel that it was and always will be the perfect fit for me.”