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Alumni Posts


by Alumni Posts on March 16, 2014

in Academics

Imagine a world without the letter “R.” Pretty hard, right? (That last phrase, omitting the letter “R,” would read as such: “Petty had, ight?”) It’s pretty obvious letter “R” is a vital letter in the English alphabet. And, as someone whose first and last names depend on “R” for that amazing connecting sound, I’m currently learning how important another version of “R” is.

This semester, I’m taking an independent study course in R Statistics and Bioconductor software with Dr. Newton of the Fontbonne Math Department. This is my third course with Dr. N, and she is great. In fall 2012 when I took her advanced statistics course, we used a program called MiniTab in order to do our statistical work. MiniTab is an awesome program with a ton of great applications – don’t get me wrong – but one setback is that it is very expensive. R, on the other hand, is a free open-access program. Though extremely finicky at times, R can do a lot of the same things that other statistical programs like MiniTab and Excel can do.

Since the beginning of the semester, I’ve been attempting to understand how R works. It hasn’t been an easy process; at first, it took me over forty-five minutes just to input my simple two-column data table into R. And I’m still having a difficult time with saving my work – one time, we had a power outage, so I literally lost over six hours’ worth of calculations and data interpretation.

All in all, I’m happy to be taking this course, even though it is an elective that I don’t actually need in order to graduate. Working with Dr. Newton is great, and revisiting important statistical concepts proves to be a good experience. So though I’ve been saying “ARGH!” a lot while working with R, I’m happy to be taking this course.


My favorite class this semester is my Edu201 class. There is a lot to this class, and I am really getting a lot out of it. We meet for 2 hours and 45 minutes on Tuesdays and beginning next week, the last hour of the class will be spent mentoring a few of the middle school students. I am really excited to begin working one-on-one with some of the kids. I hope to be able to work with at least one of the 7th graders that I work with when I observe. My favorite part of this course is that I am required to observe in the Brentwood Middle School for a minimum of 30 hours this semester. Since I am a math major I am paired up with the 7th grade math teacher and I am loving it.

I go on Fridays and am there for 3 hours so I am there for 2 full classes, and I’ve really gotten to know some of the students in those 2 classes. It’s so much fun to be able to help them, and see them figure out problems on their own. This class is certainly confirming the fact that I want to be a teacher and that I am on the right track here at Fontbonne!

Fontbonne’s Education department is terrific and everyone is so helpful!


You might notice that this text of this blog post is in pink, and of the font “Verdana.” Very observant, you are. I’ve been experimenting with HTML ever since we made a practice web page in my Server Technology class, and I had to go big for my final post of the semester.

Anyway, I’ve mapped out my schedule for next year, and it’s looking like it’ll be a tough one. (Hey, I’ve switched to Comic Sans MS! Did you catch that?) I’ve got Linear Algebra, Advanced Statistics, Software Engineering, and Artificial Intelligence lined up, and then I’m taking Newspaper Workshop and Graphic Design, as well.

What’s crazy is that Linear Algebra follows Advanced Stats, so I’ll have four straight hours of difficult math all together twice a week.

Such is life, I guess.

(…You may have missed it, and I’ll forgive you the first time, but you just had the privilege of seeing my new catchphrase in action.)

Fortunately, I’ve got a couple of months of SUMMER to gear up for a grueling fall semester!!! (…provided I make it to summer after surviving the last 2 weeks of school here…)


I’ve only had three days of classes so far (my schedule works out so that I don’t have any classes on Fridays!), but I’m exhausted by school already, and the (admittedly weak) enthusiasm with which I came into the new term is swiftly dimming. (Geek-out time:  if you graphed on a Cartesian plane the change in my enthusiasm this week, it would look like the graph of y = 1/x.  You know, a curve that starts up close to the y-axis, then curves downward until it hits its horizontal asymptote and basically gets closer and closer to zero?  That’s exactly what it’s like.  I’m sure you either love me or hate me right now.)

My new course schedule is chock-full of computer science classes- a math class (Algebraic Structures), a programming class, a compiling theory class I’m affectionately calling “Dragon Studies” because of the drawing of a knight fighting a dragon on the textbook cover (plus, compiling theory seems like it’s going to be a… dragon), and an intro to server technology class.  My only non-C.S.-related classes are American National Government and Newspaper Workshop, and they only meet once per week.  I’ve got a lot of gaps between classes every day, but I have a feeling it won’t be long until all that time won’t seem like enough in which to finish my homework every day.

Actually, I think the classes I’m taking are going to challenge me to be more disciplined in my study habits.  I’ve kind of leaned heavily on math classes in the past semesters for credit hours, and although I had homework every night, there wasn’t any memorizing of terms to do.  Not to say that my classes have been easy (because they really, really haven’t), but there wasn’t the same amount of studying involved outside of homework – you do the problems every night, you get a good idea of what you’ll be doing on the test.  The computer science classes I’m in currently are different – they’re heavy on theory and vocabulary, and I’m going to have to get into the habit of sitting down and memorizing my notes every night.

Honestly, I don’t have much hope for myself on this front – I hate studying, even though memorizing things isn’t that difficult for me.  It’s imperative that I at least try, though – I’d hate for a bout of laziness to be what brings me down this semester.

We’ll see how this all goes, and you, dear reader, will most certainly be kept in the loop about it.

So tell me, are your classes a switch-up from last semester?


Holy Smokes!

by Alumni Posts November 14, 2011

Can you believe it’s November all ready? I’d like to deny this and refuse to recognize any calendar days after October 31 because it means I have a ton of papers due in the 2nd week of November, but…I’m kind of ready for the semester to be over and getting through this month is just […]

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How can math be discrete?!

by Alumni Posts October 12, 2011

Hardest class I have this semester… or have ever had, for that matter… is Discrete Math. I still am not sure what purpose it will ever serve in my future, and I have to work twice as hard to do well in that class as I do in any of my other classes. It’s a […]

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by Alumni Posts April 26, 2011

I took my last Calculus test ever this morning.  (Granted, we’re combining the last chapter test with the final exam, and I haven’t taken that yet, but this one was my last normal test.) I guess it sounds weird, but I’m a little shaken at approaching the point where I have to leave Calculus behind. […]

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Second Semester Starts Off Swimmingly!

by Alumni Posts January 21, 2011

What’s a better way to ring in the second semester than having a three-day week? The academic year officially resumed on Tuesday (after a 35-day Christmas break, mind you) and then we had a snow day on Thursday! It may seem like I didn’t have the opportunity to fit any actual learning into this week, […]

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Students writing for Real Life at Fontbonne are paid a small fee for each post by the university.