Jean Mullen ’13-Small School, Big World

When an unexpected snowstorm kept Jean Mullen ’13 from visiting a college in South Dakota, fate brought her to Simpson College.

 “I searched through the stack of college brochures that I had set aside as being interested in and decided to visit Simpson on a whim,” she said. “It wasn’t until I stepped foot on campus, however, that I truly fell in love.”

 Mullen remembered being intrigued by Simpson’s math department and the many hands-on research opportunities the school had to offer, opportunities she would take advantage of while participating in the math modeling competition.

 After studying mathematics, secondary education and economics at Simpson, Mullen is teaching math at Lincoln High School in Des Moines, constantly challenging herself to find new, creative ways to teach math. It keeps her on her toes, but so do the students.

 “Without the students, teaching would be a mundane and ‘simple’ task,” she said. “The students are what bring each lesson alive. The reward of seeing a student succeed or have an ‘ah-ha’ moment is indescribable.”

 But it was Mullen’s experiences outside the classroom at Simpson that made a huge difference for her. From taking a May term trip to China, to working with refugees and immigrants in Des Moines, to completing an English teaching assistant position in Nepal, her eyes were opened to the world around her.

 She says couldn’t have done it all without the support and encouragement of the Simpson community. Coming from the small town of Fonda, Iowa and graduating with 32 in her class, Mullen knew she wanted her college to have a small family-like feel, too.

 “I wouldn’t say that there was a particular experience that most stands out as transforming my life, but rather the people that I met at Simpson that transformed my life,” she said. “To this day, some of my best friends are those that I met during my time at Simpson. They are my support system, my rock.”

By Laura Wiersema ’18

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