Math/Computer Science Alumni Reflections

Shannon Rooney

Master of Architecture program, Northeastern University

Mathematics & Studio Art Major

I graduated from PC in 2021 with a double major in Mathematics and Studio Art with a concentration in ceramics. During my time at Providence I was in the honors program, I was a mathematics tutor with the Office of Academic Services, the co-president of Art Club, and I helped start the Club Softball team. Academically, I was involved in mathematics research in applied topology with Dr. Joanna Su and spent a lot of time in the ceramics studio working towards my thesis exhibition. Currently, I am in my final year of a 3-year Master of Architecture program at Northeastern University.

Architecture is an inherently interdisciplinary field, and bringing my experiences in liberal arts prepared me to think about different structures that influence the world we live in. Taking part in mathematical research also provided me with a logical methodology to approach any complex problem. Coming into my time at PC, I was undecided in my major, and I ultimately declared a double major in mathematics and studio art because I love calculus, and I love making art. In continuing my study of mathematics, I found a love for the type of thinking involved in solving complex problems, and the gratification that comes with finally cracking a tough anti-derivative or proof. This process of working through tough problems and having that rewarding feeling when you solve it is similar to working through a design project, when you’re struggling and finally have that breakthrough idea. In this way I like to think that architecture synthesizes my two core academic interests.

I have such fond memories of my experiences during my undergraduate career at Providence College. If you are like me and come into your college experience with no idea what you want to study or pursue in your career, keep an open mind and be ready to take part in experiences you might not have considered before, there’s no rush to start the rest of your life. And of course hang on to your TI-84, I still use mine almost every day!

Olivia Dickinson

PhD Program in Medical Physics, Duke University

Mathematics & Physics Major, Class of 2021

“I’m Olivia Jo, commonly referred to as OJ, and I was a double major in applied physics and mathematics as well as in the honors college program while at Providence. Academics aside, I was also very involved in campus ministry,  was a tutor in the tutoring center, and was s a 400-meter hurdler for the Providence women’s track team. My time at Providence was multi-faceted and allowed me to expand my skillset in a way that not only helped me grow as a scientist and mathematician but as a thoughtful and intentional
contributor to society. 

I am currently pursuing my Ph.D. at Duke University in the medical physics program while concurrently obtaining an electrical engineering master’s degree. I am working on wireless RF receive coil technology for MRI scanners which involves clock synchronization network setup, ADC R&D, as well as Wi-Fi and GPS antenna engineering. The integration of these technologies as they relate to the healthcare field and patient experience is extremely motivating and energizing. My running career has continued as well, yet transitioned to more long-distance running as I am training for another half-marathon soon!

Providence College offers a unique opportunity to become a multi-faceted individual due to the liberal arts experience you encounter. Everyone advertises this when you arrive, but it is exceedingly true. If you decide to pursue a graduate degree, it can initially be intimidating to apply to some of the leading scientific institutions when you come from a small liberal arts school, but I have realized that it is actually a huge advantage. I am thankful that while I may have arrived at graduate school not having taken as many subspeciality technical classes as some of my peers, I had the skills many scientists lack– the ability to communicate effectively and efficiently. If you can’t communicate your science, you can’t make as significant an impact because you won’t be able to get people on board or in support of you of your ideas. Take those Civ classes seriously and know you’ll be all the better because of it. Remember there are no limitations to what you can do after graduating from Providence College, it’s an open neighborhood out there for any open-minded individuals belonging to the set of Providence College maths students.” 

Tom Arbeiter

Software Engineer, General Dynamics

Mathematics & Computer Science Major, Class of 2021

“I began my time at PC as a Computer Science major; however, soon after my first semester I began work on a Mathematics degree as well with a particular interest in all things algebra (thanks Dr. Su and Dr. Donohoe!). I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with either of these degrees, but I knew I loved solving hard problems and writing long proofs on chalkboards (it’s fun, I promise) – turns out I picked the right majors! Outside of the classroom, I competed as a member of the Men’s Cross Country and Track and Field teams for my 4 years at PC.

After leaving PC, I began work as a Software Engineer at General Dynamics Mission Systems as a member of their Engineering Leadership Program. In my two years at GDMS, I’ve had the opportunity to continue solving hard problems in support of our nation’s defense (though there are fewer chalkboards at work than at PC!). At the same time, I am working towards earning my Master’s of Computer Science from the University of Texas at Austin. And, most importantly, I’m still running!

There are so many aspects of my time at PC that have contributed to the person I’ve become today, but there are two things particular that I would encourage others to consider. First, embrace all of PC – not just the Math or CS class, but DWC, philosophy, and theology too. I often joke about being a Liberal Arts engineer, but there are valuable lessons in those experiences that will shape how you think about difficult problems. Second, as you embrace all of PC, say yes to as many opportunities that you can! I could have said no when Dr. Su strongly encouraged me to declare a Math major, but in doing so I would’ve shut the door on a whole new side of myself before ever giving it a chance. There are so many people who will help you realize your potential – don’t be afraid to listen to them and trust them!

Go Friars!”

Heather Chan

Software Engineer, Raytheon

Mathematics & Computer Science Major, Class of 2021

My time at PC felt incredibly short, but it set the course for my life going forward. My freshman year, I declared a major in Mathematics, but I did not know where that would lead me career-wise down the road. I had never written code until my first Intro to Computer Science class at PC, which was a requirement for Math majors. This class sparked my passion for programming, and I decided to declare a double major in CS. In order to become more involved in Mathematics and CS at PC, I became a tutor in the subjects and even started a Math & CS Club with a few of my classmates.

Some of my favorite and most memorable Math and CS courses at PC were Calculus, Linear Algebra, and Data Structures. While the education I received from all of my Math and CS courses is invaluable, it is the relationship with the professors and students that I treasure the most. The mentorship I received from some of my professors at PC is what led me to pursue a career in the Math and CS field. I would have never imagined that I would have chosen the career that I did today, but I chose to follow my passions and strengths with the support of my professors.

My Mathematics and Computer Science education at PC has led me to become a Software Engineer at Raytheon Technologies. Even though I never wrote a line of code before the age of 19, I was able to become a Software Engineer just a couple of years later, and I credit the determination and knowledge I acquired throughout my time at PC. Having a background in Mathematics is vitally important, not only for a Software Engineer, but in countless other careers. I value my time spent at PC, and I am forever thankful for the guidance and education that I received from the PC Mathematics and Computer Science department.

Marissa Como

Computer Science & Mathematics, Class of 2017

Marissa Como head shot

Marissa majored in mathematics and computer science.  Throughout her undergraduate career, Marissa worked as a computer science tutor for the Providence College Mathematics & Computer Science Department and managed WDOM 91.3FM’s website as a member of the radio board.  Marissa has participated in a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) at Lehigh University and an internship at MIT Lincoln Laboratory.  Currently, she is attending the University of Pennsylvania and plans to receive her M.S.E. in Computer Graphics and Game Technology in 2019.  Marissa has received the Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation (SMART) Scholarship through the Department of Defense and will be working as an associate engineer for the Information Directorate at Air Force Research Laboratory in Rome, NY when she finishes her master’s degree in 2019.

“As a computer science and math major at Providence College, the computer science and math building (Howley Hall) was my favorite place to go because I knew my friends would be there doing homework, tutoring younger students, and enjoying each other’s company.

My experiences in the computer science program were defined by my teachers. Dr. Wilkens, Dr. Villa, and Dr. Ford make the computer science program great.

From my first day of class in CSC 103, Dr. Wilkens created a community of students who laughed and learned together. She has a way of making everyone in her class feel included in the discussion and important to the class community. One of our first homework assignments was to code a drunken sailor. This was a program that had a dot moving along a random path. I misunderstood the directions, got overzealous, and coded a moving robot (a bunch of rectangles moving around). Instead of telling me to redo the project, Dr. Wilkens was excited about what I had done and had me present it to the class! After class she showed me what I had done wrong. This first assignment showed me that in computer science it was okay to be creative, ask questions, and make mistakes.

Dr. Villa is an outstanding professor that is able to break down complicated computer science concepts and algorithms into understandable pieces that all fit together. He is an extremely understanding and compassionate person who is always really helpful with homework questions. As my advisor, Dr. Villa was always someone I felt like I could go to.

Dr. Ford cares about each and every computer science student. The summer after I graduated from Providence College I was applying to a scholarship and had emailed Dr. Ford asking for a recommendation letter. That day, he called me on the phone just to make sure I had everything I needed to apply for the scholarship.

As a master’s student at the University of Pennsylvania, I have gained a newfound appreciation for the uniqueness of the community found in the Mathematics and Computer Science Department at Providence College. Had I gone to a school with a bigger department, I honestly do not think I would have majored in computer science or mathematics. This small community of students and faculty completely changed the trajectory of my career path, and I could not be more grateful.”

Ashley Richards

Mathematics, Class of 2015

Ashley Richards

Ashley majored in mathematics with minors in both economics and finance. While at Providence, she received the Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation (SMART) Scholarship through the Department of Defense. Upon graduation, she began working at Hanscom Air Force Base in Bedford, MA as an operations research analyst. There, she uses her mathematical knowledge to turn engineering and technical requirements into quantitative dollar amounts in order to estimate the cost of programs, which involves the use of analogies, parametric relationships, and other statistical modeling tools. Ashley is currently working on the 4th priority Air Force program, Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS) Recapitalization, which is a modernization program that aims to produce a fleet of 17 aircraft with complex radar and communications subsystems for use in reconnaissance missions. She also attended Northeastern University and received her M.S. in Applied Mathematics in 2018.
“The faculty at Providence College definitely prepared me to succeed both in the workplace and in future academic endeavors. I really appreciate their helpfulness and responsiveness to students; it is nice to have teachers who really care about their students’ lives and who want to help them reach their full potential. I enjoyed their variety of teaching styles and ability to communicate information clearly and concisely to students. I found the math community at Providence to be quite close-knit and inviting, and it has set the bar for my future experiences at work and in school.”

Goldie Hang

Computer Science, Class of 2013

Goldie Hang

Goldie majored in computer science with a minor in mathematics. Throughout her undergraduate career, Goldie worked in the Information Technology department at Providence College as a Helpdesk Consultant and was involved in a number of student clubs and organizations.  She is currently working as a Software Analyst at CORE Business Technologies in East Providence, RI.
“As a computer science major at Providence College I was really able to explore my interest in the computer field due to the smaller class sizes, which allowed for great conversation and exchange of ideas related to computer technology, and the professors. My professors were attentive and encouraged students to conduct outside research to further our own studies. As an advisor, Dr. Wilkens was very attentive and helped lead me to explore classes of other fields that I was interested in and tying them in to computer science. She is very knowledgeable of the computer science field and inspires students to pursue studies and projects in which some of their non-academic passions lie. Overall, the program prepared me well to become a Jill-of-all-Trade in the industry and helped me to discover my desire and passion for a career in software development.”

Joshua Mazick

Mathematics major, Class of 2013

Josh majored in both mathematics and psychology. He is currently a graduate student at the University of Maryland in College Park where he is pursuing a Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics. At PC, Josh participated in several mathematics competitions including the Putnam Exam. While at PC, he worked as a resident assistant, research assistant, and personal trainer. In his free time he enjoys reading, running, and learning new things.

“I believe the mathematics program at PC has prepared me for whatever I will face in my Ph.D. program and beyond. The professors in the department are amazing; they go beyond simply teaching the material at hand. The most important thing I learned in my mathematics courses was not a theorem, corollary, or proof — it was the ability to think critically and creatively. Before coming to PC, I never considered the need for creativity in math — pretty much everything I had been exposed to had a clear cut process to find a solution or very rigid steps in a proof. The real world is not like that, there are many paths to the same endpoint; my friends and I realized that when comparing proofs for homework assignments — inevitably we would have four or five different approaches (and usually all of them were right). The mathematics department at PC does not just prepare you to solve complicated problems or proofs as a parlor trick — as it turns out, in most parlors reciting the proof for the Heine–Borel theorem elicits more confused stares than it does applause — rather it teaches you to think on your toes.

Xiaodan Situ

Mathematics major, Class of 2013

Xiaodan majored in both mathematics and accountancy. Immediately after graduation, she began working as a member of the tax staff at Wolf & Company in Boston.

“From my experience, all the professors are extremely passionate about teaching. Besides helping their students perform well in their math classes, they are also very concerned about their students’ post-college plans and encourage their students to apply their mathematical knowledge to different fields, such as teaching, engineering, and business. They are willing to offer independent study courses based on a student’s interest. One of my professors suggested that I apply my math skills to a business field because I was not interested in teaching or mathematics research. My professor’s advice greatly influenced me and I ended up declaring a double major in math and accounting. The quantitative skills I obtained from my math courses allowed me to excel in my business courses.”

Isaac Wash

Mathematics major, Class of 2007

Isaac Wash Photo

Since graduation, Isaac Wash has held various analyst roles at the Insurance Services Office in Jersey City, NJ. His work involves actuarial analysis, relying heavily on statistics and regression analyses to forecast future automobile insurance losses. Recently, Isaac has been involved in an area of emerging technology called vehicle telematics, which allows insurance companies to record the driving behaviors (e.g. accelerations, braking events) of their policyholders at sub-second time intervals. This highly refined data is then used to develop mathematical models that predict the likelihood that a driver will be involved in an accident

“The mathematics education I received at Providence College has been invaluable to my career success. Between small class sizes and professors who were willing to spend time with me outside the classroom, I had ample opportunity to ask questions and cultivate my understanding. This gave me a sense of confidence that helped me move forward after graduation. The Providence College name also carries a lot of weight with it! On the elevator ride after my first interview at ISO, I met a Providence College alum who held a high position at the company. He’s part of the reason I was offered this job!”

Alena Mazotas

Computer Science major, Class of 2005.

Alena Mazotas Photo

After graduating from P.C., Alena helped with her family’s online store, including building a website. She then worked for the Connecticut chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.   In 2009 she enrolled in the MBA program at American International College, studying in London (where she also studied during her junior year at P.C.) and interning in the IT department of M&G Investments.

She is currently working in Connecticut for Save the Children. Her first position there was as the Administrative Associate for the Web Team, a position where she used her programming skills to work on content updates. She was then promoted to Social Media Marketing Specialist, and is now the resident Pinja, growing the organization’s following on Pinterest. She also works on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google+. Her current project involves finding the best way to utilize analytics for social media to find the return on investment and how the organization can connect with and reach its donors.

“I love what I do and I work for a great company with a worthwhile mission. It is funny to think that this job never existed while I was in college. I think Facebook only came to PC my senior year. I never could have guessed that this would be my career path. I love being on the edge of new technology, it is an exciting place to be. I also really enjoy working for a cause. I think my time at PC really helped me figure out my love of technology and helped me pair it with a sense of service to devote my time to give back to others.”

Mary Clare (Hazel) Kimber

Mathematics major, Class of 2001

Mary Clare Kimber Photo

Mary Clare received her J.D. from William and Mary in 2005. She is the Manager of Regulatory Policy for the Plasma Protein Therapeutics Association (PPTA), the primary advocate for the world’s leading source plasma collectors and producers of plasma-derived and recombinant biological therapeutics. She liaises with and represents PPTA before the regional authorities that regulate the plasma protein therapies industry, primarily the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. She sits on the Editorial Advisory Board of the Food and Drug Law Institute’s Food and Drug Policy Forum and has published in the scientific journals Haemophilia and Vox Sanguinis.

“The mathematics staff was very supportive and a key part of the well-rounded liberal arts curriculum offered at PC. My studies of logic, in particular, helped prepare me to practice law and now to represent a pharmaceutical industry before regional authorities as a regulatory professional. My mathematics background has enabled me to broaden my trade association work, including assisting in the development of a cost-utility model for the prophylactic treatment of hemophilia.”

William Wylie

Mathematics & Computer Science,  Class of 2001

Will received his Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of California Santa Barbara in 2006.

Since 2011 he has been an assistant professor of mathematics at Syracuse University. He teaches college courses at all levels and does research in differential geometry, which is the mathematics that underlies much of modern physics, including general relativity, cosmology, and string theory. He has also taught at UCLA and the University of Pennsylvania.

“I didn’t fully appreciate all of the the personalized attention and mentoring I received from the faculty of the PC math department until I compared my undergraduate  experience to my peers’ in graduate school. The one-on-one  reading courses with faculty I was able to take during my senior year were a unique opportunity that inspired me to pursue a career as a math researcher.”

Jennifer King

Mathematics major, Class of 1998

Jennifer King Photo

Jennifer King taught math at a Massachusetts high school for struggling students and then taught adults in Niger, West Africa. Upon return, she edited math textbooks for a large publisher in Boston. In 2006, Jen earned her M.A. in Teaching Mathematics at Boston University. For the past seven years, she has developed math curriculum and edited textbooks for Pearson’s middle and high school programs. Jen teaches developmental math at a community college to keep in touch with the classroom.

“I am so grateful for the education I received at Providence College. The Department of Mathematics and Computer Science is an intimate and comfortable setting, and its professors are engaged and helpful teachers. As a math teacher myself, I know the struggle to keep students interested, so I am ever-impressed by the dynamic lectures delivered by the department’s personalities. I daily use the logic, problem solving, strict attention to detail, and structured work ethic that I honed in those classes.”