Department of Mathematics and Philosophy

Mathematics & Philosophy Student and Alumni Profiles

Chirecce Robertson

Chirecce Robertson

Chirecce Robertson is the Spring 2024 Mathematics and Philosophy Department Scholar.

Receiving the Departmental Scholar Award for Mathematics is an immense honor, one that fills me with profound gratitude and humility. Mathematics has long been my passion, serving as both a source of fascination and inspiration. My time at WIU pursuing my undergraduate degree has been incredibly rewarding, enriched by the guidance of dedicated professors and the camaraderie of fellow enthusiasts. Looking ahead, I am excited to continue my journey in academia, driven by a desire to delve deeper into the intricacies of mathematics. My plans include pursuing doctoral studies, further immersing myself in the realm of mathematical inquiry, and ultimately contributing to the advancement of the field.

Sydney Himmelman

Sydney Himmelman

Sydney Himmelman is the first recipient of the James E. Elander Mathematics Teaching Scholarship established this year for the graduate students in our M.S. in Teaching Mathematics program.

The scholarship will greatly help me to complete my degree. This program has provided me support and resources while I pursue my passion for math education. I am thankful for the opportunity to continue to develop my skills and knowledge in this field.

Kinshuk Mangal

Kinshuk Mangal

Kinshuk Mangal is a Mathematics major focusing on Data Science and Statistics. He is originally from Gurugram, India. In his free time, Kinshuk enjoys exploring new cultures through travel, listening to rap, trying new cuisines, and indulging in hobbies like swimming and basketball. Beyond academics, he is deeply involved in extracurricular activities and community initiatives. Whether it's volunteering his time to support local causes or participating in campus initiatives, Kinshuk is committed to making a difference in the lives of others.

WIU's offerings aligned perfectly with my academic interests, and the opportunity to receive scholarships provided crucial support for my educational journey.

Olivia Rueschhoff

Olivia Rueschhoff

Olivia Rueschhoff completed an honors project with Dr. Amy Ekanayake in Fall of 2023.

This project really helped expand my understanding of empirical modeling in the Math 383 course. It also helped grow my confidence in writing academic papers and was a great opportunity to work with my professor, Dr. Amy Ekanayake. I really enjoyed working with Dr. E and look forward to doing more projects like this in the future.

Efoe Kossi and Kieran Lake

Efoe Kossi and Kieran Lake

Efoe Kossi and Kieran Lake are mathematics majors in their junior and sophomore year respectively. Kieran is into Data science and Statistics, and Efoe is interested in Mathematics Education. In fall of 2023 Efoe worked as a Learning Assistant for Calculus I with Dr. Amy Ekanayake. Here, the students are engaged in a problem solving session for the course.

Every Learning Assistant in a STEM discipline is required to take a 1 semester hour course, Math 381, Introduction to STEM Teaching. Here’s what Efoe says about the course:

“This class gave me a lot of skills relevant to my future career in education: it taught me about the importance of planning before class, being organized, giving the students opportunities to practice, and being an effective communicator.”

Dr. Susie Brooks, who is teaching the course and employes LAs in her calculus courses, continues Efoe’s observations:

“Learning Assistants are provided unique opportunities to work with undergraduate students within their discipline. They aid in creating active-learning environments within the classroom, facilitate deeper understanding of content material in small-group settings outside of the classroom, and learn about pedagogical topics such as growth mindset, metacognition, and effective questioning.”

Efoe: “I believe that being a Learning Assistant will make me a better teacher. It is an opportunity to practice everything that I learned in Math 381 while working with students to address their needs. Moreover, I am advised by knowledgeable and experienced professors: Dr. Amy Ekanayake has been a great mentor to me in Calculus I, and now, I am working with Dr. Dimitrov in Calculus II, learning more and more from my professors and my students.”

Amy: Efoe's presence as a learning assistant positively impacted the mood in the classroom, allowed for more individual feedback during class, and made groupwork feasible. Students were engaged and did lots of active learning in class. They had far more interactions at all levels, peer-peer, student-teacher, and student-LA, than my traditional classes. I am grateful for Efoe’s presence and contribution to the students’ learning experience.

Maral Tajova

Maral Tajova, Graduate Student

Maral Tajova is an international student from Turkmenistan who joined the Master of Science in Mathematics (M.S.) program fall 2023.

Mathematics is like my favorite chocolate...providing pleasure and satisfaction when I immerse myself in its precise logic. I am happy that I have chosen WIU for my future success, as it provides outstanding opportunities for dedicated students. The most important thing that I have been experiencing here is that professors do not only provide academic instructions but also enlighten students for their future careers. I am proud and delighted to collaborate with them as a research and teaching assistant.

Gabby Hoelzer

Gabby Hoelzer, Special Education major - 2025

Mathematics and Philosophy Department instructor, Kathleen Felt, was a mentor to Gabby Hoelzer for her honors project. Gabby’s project was designed with the intent to give her hands-on teaching experience within a special education math classroom, with the added challenge of creating the 5 place-value lessons for varying ability levels. It’s so important to give our WIU students opportunities to experience the joys and challenges of the classroom environment whenever possible! Gabby partnered with a school in the Rock Island-Milan School District for her project and it was an incredible success! She connected with the students and staff immediately during her visits and created a bond that will remain with everyone for a long time!

The process of writing this unit was very interesting! The lesson I taught for the class was a fantastic experience; I was able to make wonderful connections with the students, a paraeducator, and the teacher of the class. It was amazing to be able to see something I worked so hard on come to life and see that I was able to create so many different activities to help these students! I learned so much about the "5 E" (Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, Evaluate) lesson structure and how to keep students engaged while learning new math concepts! Math was never my favorite subject in school, but Professor Felt, who I worked with on this project, really helped me to realize how engaging and exciting math can be! ~ Gabby Hoelzer

Dr. Victoria Baramidze, scholarship recipients Mathew Simpson and Cheyenne Duchay, Dr. Robert Mann

Dr. Victoria Baramidze, Matthew Simpson, Cheyenne Duchay, Dr. Robert Mann

Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Recipients

Matthew Simpson and Cheyenee Duchay, mathematics teacher education majors, are 2023 recipients of the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program.

I have always wanted to be a teacher. My step-mom is a teacher and she has been a major role model in my life. Seeing her help her students has inspired me to become a teacher. In high school, math was a subject that many of my friends struggled with. I found that I enjoyed helping my friends with their math homework and finding ways to explain it to them differently so they would understand the math concepts. It was then that I realized that math was the subject I wanted to teach. The Robert Noyce scholarship will provide opportunities for me to connect with other educators through professional events and seminars that the program offers. This scholarship is going to allow me to completely focus on my education and not be concerned with the financial cost as well. I am truly grateful for this scholarship. ~ Cheyenne Duchay

Olivia Brinker

Olivia Brinker

Olivia is the Mathematics and Philosophy Department Scholar for fall 2023. Olivia is an incredible student: she is excelling in both of her majors, chemistry and mathematics. She is active with the Math Club, serving as its treasurer. To top it all Olivia is a delightful person!

Caleb Engebrecht

Caleb Engebrecht '23, Mathematics & Mechanical Engineering (Robotics)

Caleb Engebrecht (Milan, IL) graduated with highest academic distinction, Summa Cum Laude, and he is also a Centennial Honors College Scholar. At WIU, Engebrecht participated in Symphonic Wind Ensemble, Percussion Ensemble, the Learning Assistant Program, the LEGO Sumobot Competition in the Quad Cities and the Student Honors Association in the Quad Cities. He is also active in the Lutheran Student Fellowship, St. John's Lutheran Church Choir and the Quad Cities Wind Ensemble. After graduation, Engebrecht plans to work as a systems engineer at Collins Aerospace in Cedar Rapids, IA. He also plans to pursue master's and doctoral degrees in mechanical engineering and a possible master's degree in computational mathematics. He would eventually like to become a professor and teach mechanical engineering and write an academic textbook in either numerical solution methods or introductory heat transfer.