Eleven Math/Actuary Science Majors Participating in Summer Research

Eleven Mathematics or Actuary Science majors will be working on undergraduate research projects during Summer 2014.  Four students will be participating in off-campus summer research experiences.

Seven students will be completing research with Simpson College faculty.

For more information on research in the Mathematics Department, click here.  For more information about off-campus summer research programs, click here.

Kiley Murray and the Culver Center: A Simpson Success Story

Story credited to Simpson College PR Department

This is a story about a high school senior and the former United States senator who changed her life.

The senior and the former senator did not know each other. Their introduction would come later, when the senior was a first-year student at Simpson College, and the former senator was visiting the center named in his honor.

On that day, at the John C. Culver Public Policy Center, Kiley Murray could finally tell John Culver thank you.

“I would not be at Simpson College if it wasn’t for the Culver Center,” Kiley Murray says, “I would not have been able to come here if it wasn’t for what Senator Culver has set up.”

At Simpson, Murray discovered more than a community of like-minded students who care about issues as much as she does. She also found friends who would help guide her through one of the most difficult stages of her life.

“There’s no better place,” she says.


It was perfect.

Kiley Murray lived in Evergreen, Colo., but she wanted to attend college in Iowa, because that is the state that hosts the first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses and because Murray was interested in political science.

She decided to visit Drake University in Des Moines, “but I kept getting emails from Simpson, so I decided to go look, and I fell in love with it.

“I loved the campus. I loved the people. I did an overnight visit with students from the Pi Beta Phi house, and I loved everything about it.”

Her choice was clear: Simpson College.

There was just one problem: Finances.

“My Dad was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer when I was in ninth grade,” Murray explains. “We had to pay for chemotherapy and other medical treatments. We didn’t have a lot of extra money for college.”

That’s when Murray’s mother, Kathy, discovered the John C. Culver Public Policy Center at Simpson College, which offers scholarships to students interested in public service.

The Center, along with the Iowa History Center, the Emerge start-up business incubator and the speech and debate team, is one of the attractions that sets Simpson apart from other colleges and universities.

The Murrays learned that the Center had been established in 2010 to honor the service of John Culver, who represented Iowa for 16 years in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate.

The Center’s goal is to inspire young people to pursue careers in public service and to become engaged citizens.

This sounds like it was created for you, Kathy Murray told her daughter. You should apply.


Indeed, Kiley Murray has been fascinated with politics since fifth grade. Members of her extended family have been involved in politics; a cousin dropped out of college temporarily to work on one of Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns.

It surprised no one in her family that Kiley would decide to study in Iowa simply because of that state’s role in the presidential selection process.

“I like the idea that individual people can make a big difference in other people’s lives,” she says. “Government gives order to our everyday lives and is involved in every single aspect of our everyday lives.”

On a visit to the Simpson campus, Murray met with Mary Sheka, then the executive director of the Culver Center, who interviewed her for one of the five fellowships that are awarded each year to first-year students.

Murray didn’t say it, but this was her one chance: If she didn’t get the scholarship that comes with being a Culver Fellow, she simply would not be able to attend Simpson.

Her father’s condition had worsened. He eventually had to stop working and the family would have to rely solely on her mother’s job for income.

Murray returned home to finish her senior year of high school and waited.

One day in late March or early April, she received an email from Anne Fattig, a Simpson admissions counselor, and it contained the news she had been praying for: When Simpson classes began in the fall of 2013, Kiley Murray would be a Culver Fellow.

“I jumped up and down in my kitchen and then ran outside to tell my Mom as soon as she got home, and I cried,” she said. “It was just overwhelming. My Dad was so excited for me, we all cried together. It was grand.”

It was joyous news in a family that desperately needed some. While her mother worked that summer, Murray stayed home, caring for her ill father, who would pass away in July.

Less than two months later, she would be starting classes on a campus far from home, where she knew almost no one.


Murray’s hometown, Evergreen, Colo., is a community of about 9,000 people, 15 miles west of Denver.

“It’s a pretty small town, and I became the kid with the dead Dad,” she says. “That was not a good experience, because I felt like it became the defining factor of who I was, and I didn’t want it to be the defining factor.

“It’s hard to explain, but it’s like even though this has happened to you, it’s not who you are. It’s part of what made you who you are.”

Should she share that aspect of her life with her new Simpson classmates? Would they look at her with the same sad expressions that people back home did?

She would worry about that later. In the meantime, Murray vowed to embrace every aspect of the Simpson Experience that she could.

She joined the speech and debate club, even though she had never done it before. She joined the Delta Delta Delta sorority. She got involved with the Where’s the Fun Club. And she participated in every program the Culver Center offered.

When Ray Walton, who took over for Sheka as director of the Culver Center, offered to take her to Des Moines to watch Gov. Terry Branstad’s Condition of the State speech, she quickly agreed.

“My whole mindset coming here was that I’ve been given so many scholarships and opportunities, a lot of what I’m doing now is making sure I’m worthy of those,” she says. “I want to prove Simpson College did not mess up by giving me this opportunity. I need to prove it to everyone, that’s how I feel.

“I learned during all of that time caring for my Dad to take each day as it comes and realize the gifts that you have.”


First-year students at Simpson are required to take a class called the Simpson Colloquium, taught by the student’s advisor.

Murray’s advisor, Jim Palmieri, a professor of economics, asked his class to write a personal narrative about loss.

“I thought, ‘Well, OK, that will be easy,’” Murray said. “And that’s when Professor Palmieri learned about my Dad. We talked about it.”

He became part of her Simpson support network. So did sophomore Jacy Gomez, a star member of the debate team, whose mother had passed away before she started her first year at Simpson.

“She’s been very helpful,” Murray says. “She understands and can relate.”

Darcie Sprouse, the director of Student Support Services, also joined Murray’s team.

“I think the transition would have been so much harder at a larger school because I wouldn’t have the close support system from the faculty, the staff and all of my peers,” Murray says.

“I love Simpson,” she adds. “The people are all really great and the professors really care and I’ve gotten involved in a number of different activities that I didn’t think I would ever be involved in.

“My Mom got a little frustrated over Christmas because I kept referring to Simpson as my home.”


Murray’s goal has changed.

She was going to run for political office someday. Then she took her first economics course.

“I fell in love with it,” she says. “I’ve now decided I want to be chairperson of the Federal Reserve.” She laughs. “We’ll see how that goes.”

Being a Culver Fellow, she says, has introduced her to a wide array of notable people. She has met Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey and former U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson.

“Two of my best friends on campus are also Culver Fellows,” she says. “It’s great, because we’re all interested in the same things, and then we all hang out at the Culver House. There’s no better place for politics than Simpson.

“I haven’t been here for a presidential caucus yet, but oh, am I excited.”


It’s called “Pizza and Politics,” an event in which the Culver Center invites a distinguished guest to discuss the issues of the day with students.

One of the guests last fall was John Culver himself.

“He was awesome,” Murray says. “Almost like a grandfather figure. I just wanted to sit and hear him tell stories all day. All of his stories are fantastic.”

Murray was able to tell Culver thank you, but only briefly, and she wonders if he truly realizes the impact he and the Center have had on her life.

She’d like to tell him this:

“Without the scholarship, I would not be at Simpson. The Culver Center has opened so many doors for me and the other Fellows. At this point my life would be so different without the fellowship that I can’t even imagine it.

“Thank you.”

Modeling Contest Results

The 2014 Mathematical Contest in Modeling (MCM) and Interdisciplinary Contest in Modeling (ICM) results have been posted.  Simpson had 66 students (22 teams of three) participate in the contest.  Four Simpson teams selected MCM Problem A.  Nine Simpson teams selected MCM Problem B.  And ten Simpson teams selected ICM Problem C.  For the 10th year in a row, Simpson College has fielded more teams than any other college or university in the United States.

Internationally, 6755 teams participated in the MCM (6% from the United States) and 1028 teams participated in the ICM (2% from the United States).  Simpson College fielded almost half the teams from the United States in the ICM.

In Problem B, one Simpson College team earned a Meritorious ranking (top 11%) and two Simpson College teams earned an Honorable Mention ranking (top 42%).  In Problem C, one Simpson College team earned a Meritorious ranking (top 15%) and two Simpson College teams earned an Honorable Mention ranking (top 50%).  Simpson College was the only college or university in Iowa to earn a ranking above successful participant.  For detailed results visit the COMAP website.


Krystal Dagget – 2014

Krystal Dagget at the Salisbury HouseI am interning at Salisbury House this semester and am participating in all aspects of a small museum.  I started working on the cataloging program and helped organize the museum’s extensive object and book collection.  As the semester went on, I began giving tours and learned about how the Salisbury House Foundation chooses to interpret the story of this home.  Currently, I have been doing my own research in the files and photo albums of the Weeks family, who built and owned the home, to create an exhibit proposal.  This internship has given me an interesting behind-the-scenes look at how a small museum works and provided me with experiences I would not have had in the classroom.

Undergraduate Research Publication: SIAM Undergraduate Research Online (SIURO)

The undergraduate research of Louis Joslyn, Casey Croson, and Sara Reed was recently published in SIURO.  The paper was titled Determining Critical Locations in a Road Network.

The research was completed in Summer 2013 during the Dr. Albert H. & Greta A. Bryan Summer Research Program at Simpson College.

This group presented their research at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in Baltimore in January.  They will present their research at MUMS on Saturday, April 12 and at the Simpson College Undergraduate Research Symposium on April 24.

Undergraduate Research Publication: SIAM Undergraduate Research Online (SIURO)

The undergraduate research of Louis Joslyn, Casey Croson, and Sara Reed was recently published in SIURO.  The paper was titled Determining Critical Locations in a Road Network.

The research was completed in Summer 2013 during the Dr. Albert H. & Greta A. Bryan Summer Research Program at Simpson College.

This group presented their research at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in Baltimore in January.  They will present their research at MUMS on Saturday, April 12 and at the Simpson College Undergraduate Research Symposium on April 24.

Students learn from statesmen

Last week, Simpson College hosted former senators Alan Simpson and John Culver on campus for the annual Culver lecture.  While the senators were here, they visited with a few student groups and joined in classroom learning.Senator Culver speaks with Senior Management Students

In the Department of Business Administration and Economics, Senator Culver spoke with the Senior Management Seminar course of Professor Bob DeGraaff.  Before welcoming the senator, students brainstormed questions to ask the senator relating to their work on start-up businesses, small business management and non-profits as well as his advice for beginning a career and staying in Iowa after graduation. For almost an hour, the Senator answered these questions and more relating to his service to the country as a member of both the House of Representatives and the Senate.  When asked his suggestions for how to start a successful career, the senator shared his experience and advice,

“Work hard and always look for new opportunities.  And don’t ever forget to continue to develop your reputation of effectiveness.  Your reputation will precede you.”

The senator also shared a personal story of standing for what you believe in and staying true to yourself from his first run for office.

Professor Meuller welcomes Senators Culver and Simpson to her Business Law courseThe following day, Senator Culver brought his friend and former colleague, Senator Alan Simpson with him to Professor Marilyn Mueller’s Business Law and Ethics course.  From a different perspective, these students asked focused questions relating to the business of congress, getting work done and working with those of differing opinions.  Both men spoke to the differences they see in congress today.

“When we were in office, there was a focus on finding common ground.  The folks on the opposite side of the aisle weren’t your enemies as they often are today.”

They counseled the students to take a different approach in their own work. One student asks a question during the visit of Senators CUlver and Simpson to the Business Law Class

Many students in the department pursue traditional business career paths, but others find success in public policy, politics, non-profits and other fields.  Thanks to the Culver Center for hosting Senators Culver and Simpson on campus and thanks to both for visiting with our students and sharing their wisdom    as they consider their career options!


Accounting students complete spring internships

He doesn’t pretend it wasn’t hard work and a big change, but Cameron Lundsford is enthusiastic in his endorsement of his recently completed internship at KPMG.  In January, Cameron few to Orlando, FL for a one week training prior to beginning his 3 month internship at this Big 4 accounting firm in Minneapolis.

“It was -20 when we left Minnesota and 80 in Florida.  We didn’t have a lot of free time, but the change in temperature was worth it!”

Cameron applied for an internship with the public accounting firm at ICORN day back in the fall.

“It is a good way to get your foot in the door.  The best way to get a public accounting job after graduation is to intern in the spring.”

This junior from the small town of Allerton, IA knew that moving to Minneapolis for the duration of the internship would be a big change, but he knew it was worth it.  So he found a place to stay, packed his bags and headed north.

An audit internship allows a college student to get into the work of an accounting firm before graduation.  After an intensive week of training, the students join teams of full-time employees as they work to complete audits of various clients.  It is an amazing experience of working long, hard days, an excellent preview of what the career will be.

Cameron is just one of the Simpson juniors who completed public accounting internships this spring.  Other students interned at firms in Des Moines. Kelsey McLaughlin dedicated herself to her internship at Ernst and Young for the last three months.

I had a mentor in the firm, someone who had just begun in August.  He knew how steep the learning curve would be and helped me out when I had questions.  I also had a senior partner I could ask questions of.  They are big on team-building at EY.

On their path to finish 150 credit hours by graduation to qualify to sit for the CPA exam, these students also take a couple classes in the Simpson evening program during the semester.

Starting the job search with some help from Career Services

Students in the Multimedia Journalism senior seminar course had some dedicated time for job preparation a few weeks ago.  Bobbi Meyer, Internship Coordinator in the Simpson Career Services office, visited the class in late February.  As a group of seniors who have Bobbi Meyer Visits MMJ Semiall had great internship experiences, this class was looking for deeper information about the job search process.  “We covered a few tips on applications and interviewing, but we spent more time talking about how they are feeling about the job search.  Many of these students are looking not just for a job, but a career at an organization they feel good about.  We discussed networking tips and where to search to find positions with the right fit so they can match their values to their career.”

Professor Brian Steffen had invited Bobbi to speak with the students to offer some additional advice as they begin their career search.

The students also discussed the recent change in attitudes towards careers.  The job they begin in May will not necessarily be the job they are at in 3 years which will be different still from the job they have 20 years from now.  The benefit of getting a degree from a college of liberal arts like Simpson is that the students have a broad education and have learned how to learn and adapt.  They will be able to switch career fields and thrive in new environments.

The coming weeks will bring a flurry of activity in their coursework and a number of job interviews.

Add an Event to the Web Calendar/Campus Events Newsletter

Add an Event to the Web Calendar/Campus Events Newsletter

  1. Navigate to the Simpson web site and click on Upcoming Events found on the right hand side of the page under the main picture.
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Each event entered must be approved by either PR and Marketing or StudentActivities. Please plan ahead to allow time for your event to be approved and placed in the web calendar and in the newsletters prior to your event.