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Adding Up to Success

Kathryn Beck '20

Kathryn Beck ’20

Kathryn Beck ’20 has always had a variety of interests, and as a Dickinsonian, she’s able to pursue them all. She nurtures her green thumb as a Kaufman Learning Garden volunteer, sings in the College Choir, performs in theatrical productions and serves as a Writing Center tutor and on the Dickinson Christian Fellowship leadership team. Below, she discusses the importance of intentional self-care, the applications of graph theory and the institutional personality traits that led her to choose Dickinson.

Major: 

Mathematics.

Clubs and organizations:  

Mermaid Players, Dickinson Christian Fellowship Leadership Team, Kaufman Learning Garden (volunteer), Writing Center (tutor) and College Choir.

Honors/scholarships/awards:

Alpha Lambda Delta, Winfield Davidson Walkley Prize, William W. Landis Memorial Prize in Mathematics, John Montgomery Scholarship and Pennsylvania Society Scholarship.

Favorite book:

My longtime favorite is Graceling by Kristin Cashore and a new favorite is Charlie Muskrat by Harold Johnson.

On choosing a major:

I’ve always enjoyed taking math classes, and I sought out math enrichment opportunities throughout middle school and high school. In high school I had a fabulous math and physics teacher who fostered my love of math through her excitement for the subject. Her encouragement helped to reassure me that math was definitely what I wanted to pursue in college. I think that math is a subject that is often underappreciated, because many people have had bad experiences in math classes or do not always understand it. I have wanted to study math because I want to help people to better understand math and see its benefits and many applications.

As a kid, I wanted to be …

I’ve always had a variety of interests, so as a kid, my plans were constantly changing. A few of my childhood career goals were to be an actress on Broadway, a teacher and an interior designer.

On choosing Dickinson:

I chose to attend Dickinson because out of all of the schools that I researched and visited, I felt that Dickinson had the most personality. Dickinson’s philosophies of global engagement and sustainability stood out to me and aligned with my views. Besides personality, I felt that Dickinson fulfilled what I was looking for in a college and had the most to offer me, compared to other schools. I was pleased by the small student-to-professor ratio, opportunities to study abroad and the multitude of campus resources available to help students succeed in their college experiences and beyond. I loved the campus every time I visited, and I ended up applying Early Decision.

Favorite place on campus:

The study alcoves on Rector’s second floor.

Favorite class/learning experience:

My favorite class so far has been Introduction to Graph Theory with Professor [of Mathematics and Theodore & Catherine Mathias Chair in Mathematics Barry] Tesman. Graph theory has many visible, real-world applications. One can use graph theory to create master schedules, model street maps to find the shortest path for a mailman to travel, organize a traffic pattern and even find ways to win at games such as tic-tac-toe or chess. Also, I tend to be a visual learner, and graph theory is a visual type of math because a graph in this sense is composed of edges (lines) and vertices (dots). This class wouldn’t have been the same if not taught by Professor Tesman, who made everything about graph theory interesting and fun.

Favorite Dining Hall food:

KOVE chicken shawarma.

Most important thing I’ve learned so far:

It’s hard to pick just one thing, particularly because I’ve learned a lot of important lessons in college. One thing I’ve learned as a sophomore is that it is important to be intentional about self-care. In college we are constantly running around and trying to juggle tons of things at once, from academics to a job to social activities. Intentional self-care is important so that you don’t burn yourself out. Also, it is hard to be there for other people if you yourself are not in a good place. For me, intentional self-care means setting time aside to take a break from everything else by listening to music, going for a walk around Carlisle or treating myself to Leo’s.

Biggest influence:

My parents. They’ve taught me the value of caring for and giving of time to other people. While this takes a lot of energy and may not always seem worth it, it is ultimately rewarding.

Favorite professor:

While I have had the pleasure of being the student of many wonderful professors at Dickinson, my favorite professor is my choir director, Professor [of Music Amy] Wlodarski. Professor Wlodarski is a beautiful soul who cares deeply for everyone around her. She has an incredible passion for music and the stories that music tells, which can be seen in how carefully she crafts the concert repertoire. Every time I am in Professor Wlodarski’s presence, I learn something new about music, life or myself.

Hobbies/interests:

I volunteer for the Kaufman Learning Garden, a group of raised beds maintained by the College Farm between Kaufman and the Department of Public Safety. The produce is available for anyone to pick, and the garden serves as an opportunity for people to learn more about how produce grows and about growing methods they can use in personal gardens. My dad passed his green thumb on to me, as we have always grown a vegetable garden in our backyard. More recently, my dad helped to start a community garden in the town right over from ours, where the produce is available for anyone in the community to pick, and whatever is left over goes to people in need of food. I have volunteered at the community garden each summer, so when I saw the opportunity to help out with the Kaufman Learning Garden at Dickinson, I had to take it.

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Published January 4, 2018