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Students Attend Conference for Undergraduate Women at the University of Nebraska
In February, GVSU sophomores Alexis Johnson and Drake Parker attended a conference hosted by the University of Nebraska exclusively designed for undergraduate women interested in mathematics: the aptly-named Nebraska Conference for Undergraduate Women in Mathematics (NCUWM). This year the conference proudly hosted 268 participants from all across the country, its largest attendance in the 12 year history of the event. Alexis and Drake travelled with a group of students from nearby Hope College, led by Professor Stephanie Edwards.
As part of the NCUWM conference, the students attended question-based panel discussions where they were introduced to many future careers in mathematics, received advice on choosing a graduate school, and learned about many available summer research opportunities. Some of the career speakers worked for organizations such as the National Security Agency, Lockheed Martin, and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics.
Alexis and Drake report that they really enjoyed being surrounded by so many women with shared interests in mathematics. They particularly enjoyed attending numerous research presentations on a wide range of mathematical topics by fellow undergraduates who attended REUs (Research Experiences for Undergraduates) the preceding summer and hearing about the activities their peers are currently involved in, especially regarding research and their plans for the future.
Looking back on the experience, Alexis says that "After attending this conference, and talking with so many people, I realized that I have a true passion for math. For the first time I was introduced to the possibility of undergraduate research in math, and I now I am hoping to attend an REU next summer. While I am unsure of my overall plans for the future, as of now I intend to go to graduate school. I may even want to get my PhD and become a professor someday." Drake shares that it was great to meet so many new people and to talk with them about future plans. And while the conference didn't change her aspirations, she remarks that the experience "did refine them and make me aware of wider possibilities. For example, I hadn't heard of the REU programs before, and now I hope to participate in one in the future. It was definitely worth attending. Anyone who goes is bound to learn something, and if you're just a little lucky you may meet the person who can help you figure out what you want to do with your life."
The NCUWM conference regularly provides opportunities for its participants to learn more about the many activities and opportunities available to undergraduate students. NCUWM does a great job of using current graduate students and professionals as resources for undergraduates, allowing students earlier in their careers to ask questions and gain information about research opportunities, graduate school, and career paths. Interested readers can learn more about the conference from its web page:http://www.math.unl.edu/~ncuwm/12thAnnual/.