Loyola University Chicago

Arrupe College

Kate Nissan

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Title: Lecturer, Mathematics & Statistics
Degrees: BS, Mathematics, Loyola University Chicago; MA, Math Education, DePaul University
Hometown: Evanston, IL
Courses taught: ACSTA 101 Statistics, ACMAT 100 Fundamentals of Math

What attracted you to Arrupe College?

When I first heard about Arrupe College, I was excited. All students deserve the opportunity to receive a good education. Loyola University provides a great, Jesuit education to all its students, but there are some students for whom walking right into a four-year undergraduate program like Loyola University Chicago isn’t an option. Arrupe College gives these students a chance. It opens the door for these students to earn their Associates Degree and then see their own potential for going on to earn higher degrees and have professional careers. I have spent a large portion of my teaching career working with students like the ones that Arrupe strives to serve. I am so excited to be working in a place where students are so valued and where we recognize their potential to serve our world and work tirelessly to ensure that they continue to grow intellectually, personally and spiritually.

Talk a little about the classes you teach.

Statistics is the required core math course that students need to take in order to graduate from Arrupe. Unless a student is working towards a career in STEM it makes much more sense for the student to be exposed to mathematics that is applicable to many other fields of study. Statistics is relevant in many humanities and non-STEM based fields, including: psychology, social sciences, environmental studies, and business. Statistics is a new experience for many of the students, so together we find a way to understand the new terminology and new formulas while making connections between the topics and applying concepts to the real world.

The Fundamentals of Math course is designed to prepare students for the required Statistics course. In Fundamentals of Math students are exposed to algebra topics and foundational skills that will help them to be successful in the Statistics course.

How did you get involved in teaching mathematics?

I grew up in a family of educators and I have always wanted to be an educator. Given that math and math-related topics have always interested and excited me, it made sense that I would ultimately become a math educator. I started my career teaching in high schools and moved to the university level to teach developmental math.

What’s your favorite part about teaching? And the biggest challenge?

My favorite part of teaching is the day-to-day time spent with the students. I enjoy getting to know the students and trying to figure out how I can help each one of them master mathematics. I want students to be comfortable in my class, to overcome their fear of math, and to be happy to come to class even if math is not their favorite subject. My favorite part of teaching is achieving those goals.

The biggest challenge for me is to find ways to communicate mathematics to students in a fun, exciting, and meaningful way. Students must do independent work in order to be successful in math and it is often difficult to convince them of this idea. It is also difficult at times to persuade them to seek out extra help. Ideas build on top of each other in math so it is important that students do not fall behind.