New instructor added to the department
August 20, 2012
Amanda Watkins Niedzialomski will join the Mathematics department this year as a temporary instructor. She comes to Bradley from the University of Iowa, where she will receive her Ph.D. in the spring of 2013. Below is a Q&A with the department's latest faculty member.
Where are you from and what brought you to Bradley?
I grew up in southern Indiana, went to the University of Evansville (in Indiana) for undergraduate school, and then to the University of Iowa. So I have lived in the Midwest my entire life (and I love it!). There is a certain pace of life and level of hospitality in the Midwest that I am accustomed to and very fond of.
What attracted you to Bradley University?
I loved my time as an undergraduate in a small liberal arts institution. It was such an exciting time, experiencing a newfound independence; and my teachers were so encouraging and invested in my future. I feel that same atmosphere here—an atmosphere that is at once both nurturing and challenging—and I am so excited to be a part of it!
What is your first impression of Bradley and Peoria?
I have only been here for a few days, but so far I am really taken with the little historic neighborhoods around Bradley's campus. I love old homes, and there are some really impressive ones here. Oh, and the shopping—there is so much more shopping here than around University of Iowa.
What classes will you be teaching?
This semester I am going to be teaching Discrete Mathematics and a couple of sections of Calculus I.
What are you looking forward to most about the upcoming semester?
Meeting the students of Bradley. I think each school has a slightly different culture of students, and I am excited to be immersed in Bradley's culture.
What is one thing that you hope to achieve while teaching at Bradley?
What I want to achieve is a good balance between all the facets of my life. I want to find that place where teaching and research and hobbies and spending time with my husband and rubbing our dog's belly all happily coexist.
What made you pursue mathematics? Why should students consider studying it?
Other than a natural mathematical curiosity, it was truly the encouragement of professors at my undergraduate institution that convinced me to pursue mathematics. Math is such an empowering subject: it gives you the skills to think analytically and critically, and the confidence to do so in any situation. So many different types of professions need mathematicians. Once you have that solid foundation, you can specialize your mathematical knowledge to work in any one of a huge variety of fields.
What is your personal teaching philosophy?
It's difficult to give a teaching philosophy in a few sentences, but the core of my philosophy is that a great teacher is a caring teacher. I try to exhibit that I do care about each of my students by making myself available to answer questions from the class (or just to talk), and by giving everyone as many resources and opportunities to succeed as I can.
What do you suggest for students who struggle in mathematics?
Get help! Don't be shy about going to a professor's office hours or pursuing other outside help. One-on-one instruction is so valuable, and the quicker you seek it, the more it can help you.
Do you have any advice for students who are interested in teaching mathematics?
As with everything, you can learn so much from your own personal experiences. So take every opportunity you can to gain more experience. Volunteering as a tutor at a local high school, for example, is not only a great way to support the community, but also a great way to learn what works and what doesn't when teaching math (or anything else).