Portland native Brittany Johnson, a first-generation Math major with a Math Education minor, is making a big leap after graduation – she’s heading to Nebraska for a Ph.D.!
Why did you choose WOU?
I was originally an education major, and I knew that WOU was the best placed to be for that. I also wanted to go to school in a small town since I grew up in such a large city, so I thought WOU would be a great fit!
What do you love most about WOU?
My favorite thing about WOU was the sense of community, particularly within my department. The classes were small enough that I really had the chance to build relationships with my professors and peers, and I felt like everyone genuinely cared about one another.
What do you love most about the major/minors/degree you completed?
The math major exposed me to a wide variety of areas of study within the subject, and had made me eager to continue learning. The undergraduate math program here is designed to give a little taste of all the different branches of math, and now I have a good idea of what specific topics I’ll want to study in graduate school.
Outside of the classroom, what were you involved in on campus?
I was a founder of Alpha Chi Omega at WOU, which played a HUGE role in my college experience. It broke me out of my shell and really made me feel connected to the campus community and gave me a sense of purpose outside of the classroom. I feel like I have left my mark on the school because of it.
I am a member of the WOU Math Club and I have worked as a math tutor in the campus Math Center for three years, which has made me feel like I’ve given a positive contribution back to my peers.
What has been your biggest achievement, success or accomplishment in college?
My biggest accomplishment was getting to serve at the president of AXO in 2017. That experience helped me grow immensely as a leader, and gave me confidence to push myself (within the sorority, the classroom, and beyond). I was able to make a difference for my sisters and have incredible opportunities along the way.
Has there been a class or professor that has been particularly inspiring to you?
Dr. Scott Beaver was my advisor at WOU, and has played an enormous role in my success at WOU. I was never a student who needed much actual advising, but Dr. Beaver went above and beyond in supporting me as a student, providing me with resources to expand my horizons as a mathematician. He helped me attend a national mathematics conference in Nebraska, apply for graduate school, and conduct an independent study. He played a role in nearly every math-related item on my resume, without me ever having to ask for help! I really admire how much Dr. Beaver truly cares about his students, and hope to build similar relationships with my future students.
Dr. Leanne Merrill has only been at WOU for one year, but she has been the most impactful professor in my final year at WOU. Dr. Merrill advised my senior capstone, which was a project that ran from September to June. We met weekly to discuss my progress, and I cannot thank her enough for all of her help. Dr. Merrill is essentially at the place in her life that I aim to be in 6 years, and it has been so nice to have someone in the department to look to for guidance and inspiration.
What are your plans for after graduation?
I am attending the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to pursue my Ph.D. in mathematics.
What advice do you have for current and future Wolves?
Find your niche, and if it doesn’t happen right away, that is okay! I think that there is a lot of pressure to find your place in college right away, and it is disheartening if you don’t feel like you’ve found it. I didn’t find my “thing” until I joined my sorority as a sophomore, but it was absolutely worth the wait. Experience as many things as you can, because eventually one will feel right and you’ll never look back.
What do you know now that you wish you knew your first term in college?
You don’t have to stay friends with the first friends you make. College is a catalyst for change and growth, and there is nothing wrong with growing apart from the friends you make when you first arrive at school. Sometimes moving apart from each other is what you both need, and there is nothing wrong with that.
What is your favorite spot on campus and why?
The stadium, but at night. It is so quiet and peaceful out there, and it’s an amazing place to sit and think.
What’s the most important lesson you learned about yourself while in college?
I am a textbook example of “impostor syndrome”, and have never been good at giving myself credit for my accomplishments. It’s only been in the past two terms that I’ve learned to give myself praise and acknowledge that my successes are a result of my hard work, and it’s a really cool feeling!