Outstanding Graduates Mathematics
Hannah Fisk '20 is one of those students whose presence makes class interactions more pleasant and enjoyable for all-professors included! She brings thoughtfulness, creativity, energy and a positive attitude to discussions, and she is blessed with a bubbly personality, an excellent sense of humor and a joyful manner. Hannah has also been an exemplary model of servant leadership: she has been a very capable and dependable teaching assistant for Calculus and Fundamentals of Mathematics classes; she is serving in student government as a Global Leadership Center Senator, and she is president of the Catholic and Friends Newman Club. As a major in both mathematics and philosophy she models a true lover of learning, and does excellent work in both subjects.
Kyle Hansen, Natelli Cripe, Matthew Coffman
Three students won the Outstanding Graduate Award in mathematics, all earning 4.0 GPAs during their college program. Matthew Coffman, Natelli Cripe, and Kyle Hansen, who also won the award in computer science, were individually brilliant and collaborated well, according to their professors.
Coffman, who loves abstract thinking and problem solving, will stay in Santa Barbara and become a software engineer. “Matthew’s work is meticulously accurate,” says Russell Howell, chair of the mathematics department. “He has a natural eye for the subtleties of mathematical arguments, and has a knack for asking a question that provides the perfect segue into the next point that a teacher wants to make.”
Cripe celebrated her 21st birthday while on Westmont in Jerusalem hiking the Jesus Trail from Nazareth to Capernaum. “Not only did that trip challenge and deepen my faith and bring the Bible to life, but it also instilled in me a love for adventure and new experiences,” she says.
Her professors say she combines a quiet, unassuming smile with a sharp mind. “The combination of insight and intellectual honesty that she displays is uncommon,” Howell says. “She will own the gaps in her proofs rather than hoping they will go unnoticed.”
Her integrity blends perfectly with her passion for service, such as working for the Food Bank, or helping with various campus events.
Two of her grandparents and her father graduated from Westmont. “It’s special to be able to follow in their footsteps,” she says. “I’m really thankful for the long-lasting friendships I’ve made here, and I’m looking forward to a life of learning and other adventures.”
She continues to work as finance coordinator at the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County, where she has served the last two years, while pursuing other finance positions along the Central Coast.
David Kyle '18, whose research on trinomials has been published in the journal Involve, hopes to become a statistical consultant, interpreting results from large amounts of data. “Consultants work in a variety of fields so I look forward to living the liberal arts dream by learning about medicine, biology, government policy, etc. while I help them crunch numbers,” he says. David is passionate about data being handled responsibly. “The big data phenomenon affects more and more of our lives,” he says. “I hope to harness statistical methods and data analytics to better society and to restrain processes when they contribute to injustice.” David also met his wife, Emily, at Westmont. “This has been a great place for me to wrestle with meaningful questions about my faith, mathematics and the world. What really makes the college experience worthwhile is the opportunity to gain from other’s perspectives as I have gained from Emily’s.”
Olivia Hughes '17 is a dedicated student who works diligently to understand complex ideas. She engages in discussions with maturity and sophistication, listening to and observing those around her. She listens to her classmates’ explanations. She pays attention to what they understand and to what confuses them. She engages in conversation gracefully with the aim of collaborating with others to get at the truth. A careful and creative scholar who does meticulous work, Olivia is a gracious participant in class, not flaunting her knowledge, but contributing to lively, informative discussions. Olivia has brought to Westmont a sincere desire to make the most of her education. She has not simply met requirements, but has looked for courses and programs that would challenge her, giving her opportunities to take risks and have adventures.
Russell Harmening '16 thrives when challenged. Difficult and unfamiliar problems energize him, and his talent, tenacity, and work ethic usually win. Even at the end of a course, with his grade comfortably at the top of the class, he will doggedly attack the last three points of the final exam, just as he would dive for a foul pop-up in the late innings of a game with a ten-run lead. He is keenly insightful and mathematically creative, and at the same time, he is quiet, gracious, and humble. He is generous and kind when helping his fellow mathematics majors, who are invariably surprised to learn of his athletic prowess. Currently in the Washington Nationals farm system, he spends his spare mental energy preparing for graduate work, where a bright future awaits.
Nathaniel Taylor '15 has an infectious smile. The probability of observing this smile increases when Nathaniel is doing mathematics. To the delight of his professors, he enjoys being challenged; give him an unfamiliar and open-ended problem and he will gleefully attack it, often expressing technical creativity in the construction of his arguments. Classes seem to function at a higher level when Nathaniel is in them, probably because his work ethic and winsome personality inspire his peers to do better. The department is grateful for this young man of many talents: a double major in mathematics and physics, a student researcher, an accomplished worker and servant, and a natural leader. We pray that he would use his many gifts to serve others as a steward of God’s manifold grace (I Peter 4:10).