Photo of Aleesha Moran

Aleesha Moran '14: Calculating Future Plans

By Maegan Beasley '13

Personal attention has been a key to success for mathematics major Aleesha Moran ’14. “I’m lucky to have the professors I do,” she said. “I’m really glad I go to McKendree because the professors are supportive of what you do. Bigger schools are harder to get one-on-one attention. They let me know exactly what I need to know about graduate school.”

Last summer, Aleesha learned more about graduate school opportunities by attending a selective seven-week program on the campus at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio called the Summer Undergraduate Mathematical Science Research Institute (SUMSRI). According to the SUMSRI website, the organization’s main goals are to provide a rich research environment, improve students’ technical writing skills, and inform them of available financial aid for graduate school.

During these seven weeks, Aleesha was able to immerse herself in her element. She participated in problem seminars in mathematics, technical writing seminars, an Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) preparation workshop, courses on algebra and real analysis, and colloquium talks given by well-known mathematical scientists.

“It was interesting to surround myself with people of similar interests,” she said. “We did different projects most of the time. I was with two other students, one from Georgia and one from Ohio. We did a presentation on graph theory that went really well.”

Based on her experience at Miami University, Aleesha and the two other students were invited to present at two national math conferences – one in Baltimore and one in San Diego. “Baltimore was a relatively small conference,” she said. “It was great for networking because it was easy to meet people and actually get to know them. I got to know other undergraduates from different schools and watch their presentations.” San Diego was a huge conference of about 7,000 people from all over the country.

These conferences presented new prospects for Aleesha in mathematics of which she was previously unaware. “I was not really told what I could do with math in high school,” she said. “I don’t have to go into education, and I didn’t realize all the career opportunities math provides until I got into college. Applied math is what I am interested in. This math deals with biology and physics. There are more job opportunities for applied math. Pure math is straight mathematics where you mainly research to prove ideas and theories. The only way to find this is through teaching. I may teach eventually but I want to go into industry first.”

However, before that journey begins, Aleesha says she hopes to attend another research institute for an applied mathematics track. With the support of a great school and wonderful teachers behind her, Aleesha is confident in her abilities to find a graduate school that is right for her. “I feel like I am friends with my professors, even more than just in math, but also for advice on anything,” she said. “I don’t think students would be able to do that at a bigger school. The professors at McKendree are supportive in every way.”