Update from the Joint Mathematics Meetings

The Simpson College mathematics department is well represented at the annual Joint Mathematics Meetings, the largest mathematics conference in the world.  Students Casey Croson, Michael Frank, Sarah Jermeland, Louis Joslyn, Sara Reed, Ruth Ann Roberts, Katie Westlund and Nick Yaeger along with professors Heidi Berger and Bill Schellhorn arrived in Baltimore late Wednesday night.  On Thursday, Dr. Berger made a presentation about the math modeling workshop for high school students and teachers that was held last summer on the Simpson campus.  The students spent the day attending talks on topics such as graph theory, data science, mathematical biology, and the mathematics of art.  The group ended the day with a walk along the Baltimore inner harbor to a restaurant in Little Italy with a variety of crab entrees.

Friday will be another busy day, as all of the students will be presenting work from their summer research programs at the undergraduate poster session.  Six of the students conducted research at Simpson during the Dr. Albert H. & Greta A. Bryan Summer Research Program in Mathematics; the other two students completed their research at Michigan State University and Valparaiso University.

Dr. Schellhorn will be presenting on Saturday morning about his sabbatical research on data science with applications in sports statistics.  The group will return Saturday night.

(Image from Wikitravel.org.)

Collaborative Leadership or Information Literacy Experiential Courses through the Modeling Competition

If you are interested in participating in the MCM/ICM (math and interdisciplinary modeling contests) that will be held on campus February 6-10, 2014, then I want to make sure you are aware of the Collaborative Leadership or Information Literacy experiential learning course you can take in conjunction with participation in the contest.

These experiential learning (ExpL) courses are zero credit so they do not add to the credits you are already taking.  They are offered in Spring Term 3, meaning that they only go for the first 8 weeks of the spring semester.  You will need to be able to attend the classes/workshops which meet at 3:50-4:50 on either Tuesday or Thursday, depending on the course.  You will also be required to participate in the MCM/ICM.

If you have any questions about the courses, contact me.  If you want to sign up for the MCM/ICM, the sign-up sheet is outside Carver 340.  You can participate in the MCM/ICM without taking one of the courses, and you can participate in the courses individually without having your entire team of 3 students participate.


EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING 140-FC Info Literacy Modeling Comp
The Interdisciplinary Competition in Modeling and Mathematical Competition in Modeling (ICM/MCM) are held in the spring semester each year where teams of 3 students work collaboratively to solve a real-world problem. The best teams are those that include students from different disciplines, have strong research and writing skills, can think outside the box and follow through on a plan, and work collaboratively as an integrated team. In this experience, students will participate in pre-competition workshops, discussions or activities designed to help the student build the information literacy skills needed to be successful in the competition. The skills include being able to develop a research strategy, knowing how to access appropriate databases, web sites and paper resources, being able to assess and evaluate those sources and materials, and acknowledging the intellectual property of others through appropriate references and citations. The team will actively use those skills during the competition. Afterward, students will reflect on their success or failure and make plans for changes if needed to successfully apply those same information literacy skills in other contexts. All Simpson students who participate in the ICM/MCM are eligible to enroll, and all Simpson students are eligible to participate in the ICM/MCM. However, space is limited in the competition and completion of the competition is required to complete this IL experience.(INFOLIT)

EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING 145-FC Collab Ldrshp Modeling Comp
The Interdisciplinary Competition in Modeling and Mathematical Competition in Modeling (ICM/MCM) are held in the spring semester each year and pit teams of 3 students against a real-world problem. The best teams are those that include students from different disciplines, have strong research and writing skills, can think outside the box and follow through on a plan, and work collaboratively as an integrated team. In this experience, students will participate in pre-competition workshops, discussions or activities designed to help the student build collaborative leadership skills such as defining a shared goal, delegating work tasks, making decisions, resolving conflict, acting ethically and communicating effectively within the team. The team will actively use those skills during the competition. Afterward, students will reflect on their success or failure and make plans for changes if needed to successfully apply those same collaborative leadership skills in other contexts. All Simpson students who participate in the ICM/MCM are eligible to enroll, and all Simpson students are eligible to participate in the ICM/MCM. However, space is limited in the competition and completion of the competition is required to complete this CL experience.(COLLABLDR)

Tom Sanford: United States Attorney’s Office

What is he up to?
Tom Sanford, Political Science major, is an intern for the United States Attorney’s Office.  Through his internship, he is tasked with filing and scanning documents, working reception, closing cases, filing closed cases and assisting with exhibit and trial preparation.   His position has bolstered his skills in organization, initiative, and ability to work with a team.   He has also been afforded the opportunity to observe and assist in the court and speak with many attorneys.

What has he learned about his career development through this internship?
Tom shared that his internship is teaching him a lot about both the government and the legal field.  It is also giving him many connections to help him advance in the future.

What did his supervisor have to say about his work?
Debra DeGraff, Supervisory Paralegal, shared, “Tom has worked out very well.  He shows his strength in time management and organization and is both reliable and dependable.”

How did he find out about his internship?
Tom received an email from the Career Services office.  Career Services is committed to sharing career opportunities with students and connecting them to great experiences.  If you are an employer looking to market an internship experience, please email Bobbi Meyer.

Why does he feel it is important for students to intern?
Tom commented, “I feel it is very important for students to intern, or even just job shadow, in order to get a more realistic view of what people working in certain fields actually do.  I would have been a biology major like both of my older brothers if I hadn’t job shadowed a surgeon in high school and passed out mid-surgery.  It’s also nice to make connections in the field you’re going into. I know that letters of recommendation from the US Attorney’s Office will be very helpful when I’m applying for law school next year.”

What advice does he have for students beginning an internship?
Tom suggested, “Be as outgoing as possible right from the start.  It might be intimidating at times, but if you aren’t trying to make connections and learn as much as you can about the place that you’re interning at then you might as well not even be there.”

Katie Haganman: Warren County General Assistance Office


What was she up to this fall?
Katie Haganman, Sociology major, spent fall semester interning with the Warren County General Assistance Office and Warren County Necessity Pantry.  In addition to such general office work as inputting data, answering phones, and working with clients, Katie organized and hosted a necessity drive for the Necessity Pantry as part of Simpson College’s Homecoming Football Game.

What strengths did she utilize in her internship?
Katie was sure to be prompt, showing up every day at least five minutes early.  She was also a strong communicator, keeping in contact with her supervisor, asking questions as needed, and sharing ideas about classes and clients.

What did her supervisor have to say about her work?
Emmalee Bowlin, Director of warren County General Assistance Office, commented, “Katie is a very organized and driven individual. She has shown great care for the clients she has worked with. She is a hard worker and is always willing to go the extra mile.”

How did she find out about her internship?
Katie shared that surprisingly enough, she found her internship on Craigslist.  Craiglist is one of many web search engines where employers post internship and job postings.  As with any web search, the Career Services team encourages students to complete research on any potential employer and reach out for help when unsure.

Why does she feel it’s important for students to intern?
Katie commented, “I feel it is important for Simpson students to have an internship as it gives the students experience in the field they are studying. It also gives many students a better idea of what they want to do in the future. Students may find they want to take another career path. Interning will also give students an opportunity to network and have potential for future employment.”

What advice does she have for future interns?
Katie encourages, “Don’t be afraid to ask questions! This is how you will learn and it will help you become more experienced in your field.”

Congratulations to our December Graduates in History

Three history majors graduated in today’s December commencement ceremony.

The History Department wishes a hearty congratulations and good luck to:
Bobby Dennis, Blake Heitmeier and Ryan Stumbo.

Leaving London: My Parting Words

In less than a week I’ll be on a plane back to Iowa. I can’t believe three months has already passed, but alas, all good things must come to an end. Before I left, I posted about my expectations for my term in London. And, since it is nearing completion, it’s time to reflect.

London Phone Box

Wouldn’t the world be a better place if these puppies were everywhere?

One of my goals for this semester was to become more comfortable with change. And let me tell you, London is a big change from Des Moines. I wasn’t expecting there to be such a big difference, so it made adapting harder at first. I was thinking it would be extremely similar to the U.S. since it’s an English-speaking country. That was my first mistake.

I can tell you that I definitely had a bout with culture shock because of my expectations. It was really difficult to overcome it at first, too. In all honesty, it took me about three weeks. And there was a time when I would have given anything to go home. But, I stuck it out and looked for things that would make the experience worthwhile.

I spent a lot of time exploring and learning about the city on my own, and I found it really helped. I realized that once I started actively seeking out things I liked about the city, I started to enjoy the experience more and more. I stopped dwelling on the fact I wasn’t in Des Moines, and started living in the moment. And then it hit me. I had overcome a very large obstacle. I had finally adapted to the culture around me.

Looking back on that experience, I can’t help but think about how it has prepared me for the “big kid” world I’ll be approaching in a few short months. The transition from college to career is a big change. I’ve been in school pretty much all my life, so being done is going to be really weird. I’m excited for what’s to come, but I know that it will be a big transition. I’ve adapted to living in a completely different country, though. I think I can handle it! And when the going gets rough, I’ll just have to spend some time looking for the things around me that I enjoy.

With that, I’ll leave you with a piece of advice. It’ something that I’ve heard numerous times back in the states, but it really started to have meaning when I arrived in London. Never ever let a challenge or the fear of failure stop you from achieving your dreams. Study abroad was a challenge for me at first. It’s my senior year, and I thought it would end up hurting my job prospects. Once I truly started to see the benefits of my time – confidence, independence and the ability to adapt to changing environments – it all made sense to me.

The challenge could have made my experience horrible if I would have let it. Instead I kept on keeping on and looking for things to make it better. And I’m thankful I did, because it gave my study abroad experience meaning. So if you’re thinking about studying abroad, don’t let the challenge of leaving what you know deter you from having the experience of a lifetime.

‘Tis the season for an ending term

Kate Hayden in Edinburgh


It feels like once Thanksgiving hit, time began to fast-forward, and a week from today I’ll be back in Iowa, surrounded by Christmas decorations, family, knitting, and my dog. Ask anyone here about me, they’ll tell you about how annoyingly often I bring my dog up in conversation.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s going to be so hard to leave here. The picture above is from my weekend trip to Scotland, and I can’t accurately describe how difficult it was for me to board the bus back to London. Edinburgh was perfect for me, and I needed an extra three months for that city alone to explore, much less the countryside; people to meet, pubs to explore, &etc. But as the holidays come closer and I read blogs or statuses talking about heading back home, I can tell you I really miss my family. Three months is a long time to be apart! I’m excited to hear my family laugh, hear my dad give the Christmas sermon at church (pastor’s kid, go figure), and all the traditions that come with the season.

U.S. seasonal traditions disappointingly don't include fields of Santas playing bagpipes

U.S. seasonal traditions disappointingly don’t include fields of Santas playing bagpipes

This time next week I know I’ll be reflecting on my trip. Quite honestly, looking a week into the future I don’t know what I’ll be feeling, much less 10, 15, 40 years down the road. But there are four key points students considering study abroad should know:

There is not enough advice in the world to prepare you for your semester, but I would like to tell you that no two experiences are the same. There were sixteen Simpson students on this trip to London, and as far as I know I’m the only one who got a trip to the hospital (see earlier post). Hopefully you won’t do that, but just because person A spent two weeks in Paris and Rome sampling fine wine and posting to their award-winning blog, doesn’t mean person B will be going to the same places, with the same tours and experiences — your story is your own. Don’t feel guilty because you didn’t do the same things other students did; find your own goals and must-do lists.

The more you read up on your host culture beforehand, the better off you’ll be. Not because you’ll know what to expect. Rather, you’ll know what patterns or behaviors to look out for, and whether you find them accurate or not it will help you analyze and relate to the country in a different light. Once I got the hang of saying ‘cheers!’ in social situations, it put me in a different light in their eyes. Small attempts help conversation go a long way.

When you study abroad, there will be a point where you ‘click out’ with reality. Study abroad isn’t one big culture party — you still have responsibilities. And, you will still occasionally lose touch. Everyone I know on this trip has hit that point before; some hit it right away, when they couldn’t immediately handle the culture shock; for others it took time, maybe over grades, or scheduling, or money. For me it was right in the middle of the semester, when I hit myself with a pretty unattractive midterm grade. Thankfully, my  professor knew I could be doing better and worked with me, both to get my grade up and to get me in a better place to make the remaining time worthwhile. You are still a young adult. You have the capability to make mistakes — and then fix them.

Lastly, you still need flip-flops for the showers. Don’t say you’ll buy them in your host country. Just pack them. Save yourself from the first-week stress of finding cheap shower shoes.

Cheers to Christmas break, and cheers to returning to family (and Simpson)!



An Introduction by Liz Glodek

The New Year is Fast Approaching

There seems to be consensus that the older we get, the faster the New Year comes. But the end of the year is a universal time when people spend some time in reflection and also in considering the potential that the next year holds. We write resolutions both serious and silly. This year, I resolve to make more time for my husband… By spending less time on Pinterest. Whatever the list ends up being, it becomes less important than the actual act of reflection; that pause as we consider all of the blessings we received and all of the challenges we overcame.

This year, we are celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) degree and the Transition to Teaching program and are excited to announce that we will mark the occasion with a reception on Monday, February 10 (details below). As many of you may know, these two programs are designed to help people transition from their current careers into the teaching profession, providing the coursework for teacher licensure and for the master’s candidates, a graduate degree as well. All within two years (including summers)! It is a rigorous program, but as our alums can attest, an enormously satisfying one as well.

It has been my privilege to work with the candidates in our graduate education programs as well as the faculty and administrators in Simpson’s Teacher Education Program. In this issue of our newsletter, you can also read about Korey McKasson, a Simpson graduate who started his MAT program this fall in the 2013 Cohort. Though Korey’s journey is his own; I’m sure you will see the similarities to yours as well.

And finally, on behalf of everyone in Continuing & Graduate Programs, I share our many good wishes to you and yours this holiday season. May your homes be filled with great joy and small delights and everything in between as you celebrate with family and friends. As we wrap up the fall semester and find our minds already racing to the spring semester, we hope that you’ll take time to enjoy the holidays. As Helen Keller reminds us The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.

Liz Glodek

Congratulations, December ’13 Graduates!

December 2013 Commencement will be held Saturday, December 14th at 2pm in Smith Chapel on the Indianola Campus.  The following Continuing & Graduate students will be taking part in the ceremony.  For more information on the event, please click here.

Master of Arts in Criminal Justice

Alesha Hawkins
Lorie A. Woodard

Master of Arts in Teaching

Johnathan Richard Clogg
Melissa Suzanne Daniels
Jessica Lynn Hazelton
Nicole Edrie HIvely
Lindey Cole Krug
Trisha Lloyd
Chelsea R. Peno
Megan Rezek

Bachelor of Arts

Jade Desiree Ahrens
Bryan L. Beyer
Rochelle Diane Carrington
Russell Cheatem
Brian L. Kemmerer
Kirstin Koestler
Carrie Lynn Leadbetter
R. Mark Lee
Scott N. Leek
Jessie Rae Leonard
Mark Robert Mataya
Julia M. Matson
Mark Edward Mears
Christopher James Monahan
Sean Thomas O’Bryan
Ann J. Powell
Xavier Robles
Angela M. Rodriguez
Christopher Lee Wagner
Amy S. Woolery

Student Spotlight – Korey McKasson

What prompted you to earn your degree?
I have always wanted to be a teacher, life happened and I never followed through. A few years ago I decided it wasn’t too late to follow the dream. I enrolled at Simpson and completed my BA in Business Management the Spring of 2013 and started my current program in August.

What is your major and why did you select it?
I am in the Master of Arts in Teaching Program, with teaching endorsements in business and special education at the secondary level. Earning endorsements in both of these areas seems to be a natural fit for me.

How has your experience at Simpson impacted your life?
Classmates in most of my classes came from diverse backgrounds. Hearing their experiences has given me a better perspective on situations that I knew almost nothing about before.

What has stood out to you as a fundamental part of your Simpson Experience?
The professors at Simpson want students to be successful.

What do you plan to do once you graduate?
Teach special education at the middle school level.

What is your favorite vacation spot?
Every year we spend time in Branson and Wisconsin Dells.