Love of mathematics bonds Mitra Kermani ’20 and teacher Andrea Young
Mathematics is the foundation for the strong relationship between Mitra Kermani ’20 of Louisville, Colorado, and Andrea Young, associate professor of mathematical sciences and acting vice president and dean of faculty. In a predominantly male field, these two have bonded over being women in mathematics.
“I met (Andrea Young) during my junior year of high school when I came to visit, and she stuck out in my mind,” Kermani says. “She was part of the reason why I chose to come to Ripon.”
Kermani has worked with Young in a number of ways, beginning as a research assistant, then as a student, and, in her latest role, as an employee. She appreciates being able to speak candidly with Young about personal emotions and concerns.
“(Our) one-on-one relationship happened organically,” Kermani says. “It’s something that any student can have with any professor at this college. You just have to be willing to go in and talk with them and open up.”
Kermani values seeing her gender represented in the mathematics department. “All of the male professors are really supportive, but seeing someone like yourself really makes you want to go further even more,” she says.
Young, in return, is inspired by Kermani’s passion and work ethic. During the spring semester of 2017, Young sent out a call for students to work with on a summer-long research project. Without ever having had then-first-year Kermani in a class, Young selected her as a part of the team. “I had heard really good things about her from other professors in the department,” Young explains.
“Connecting with her on a research level was a really great experience as a faculty member,” she says. “We were all on the same level. We worked as collaborators, much more than me being a boss. That’s what’s really exciting about working at this college.”
At the 2017 National Math Festival, Young was impressed with the positive and professional way in which Kermani represented Ripon. “That’s what I appreciate about Mitra. She loves this place and she wants to let other people know that,” Young says. “She brings enthusiasm into her classes, to her work, in the president’s office, and it’s great!”
Young benefited greatly from female mentors she has had throughout her career, and she finds it rewarding to provide that same personal mentoring to women like Kermani. “I think it is emblematic of the types of relationships that faculty here are lucky enough to form with our students. Ripon really fosters open lines of communication.”
Young said she has had classes where she, as the professor, has been the only woman in the class. “On a personal level, being able to connect about that and share our experiences is valuable for both of us,” she says. “There’s a lot of power out there in informing communities.”
Dakota Marlega ’21