From the Window of AMath’s Undergraduate Program Advisor

Submitted by Tony I Garcia on

By Becky Beard

First, an introduction!  My office window has a beautiful view of trees and ferns behind Lewis Hall.  When I joined the Applied Mathematics Department part-time in January 2021 as the Undergraduate Program Advisor, we were all working remotely, so I first visited my office in Autumn 2021!  I started advising for the program on a full-time basis in January 2022.  Before coming to the College of Arts & Sciences, I advised undergraduate and graduate students in the Nutritional Sciences Program in the School of Public Health and I worked as an admissions officer for the International Student Admissions Office.  I started my advising career with Masters and PhD students in the Cell Systems & Biology program at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, Texas.  Prior to advising students, I advised the public in numerous capacities, working in environmental resource management and wildlife conservation for several years, for state and city governments in Texas, and then for non-profit organizations in Washington, DC and Seattle.  My Bachelor’s and Master's degrees are in Geography, but my gradual career shift has empowered me professionally in many ways, and I enjoy working in higher education.  This past spring, I spoke in UW’s first annual “Everybody Hacks!” Hackathon speaker series, organized by GeoDat, the Society for Geography and Data Science.  Our panel was composed of professionals who have maintained a focus on service throughout their careers.  In April, I was honored to be named the Adviser of the Month by the Association of Professional Advisers and Counselors (APAC)!  It was gratifying to be nominated, chosen, and celebrated by the tri-campus UW community.  

Where do I get to work?  We have over 150 students in the Applied Mathematics (AMath) and Computational Finance & Risk Management (CFRM) majors and over 130 students in the AMath and CF minors.  We graduated our first cohort of 12 students in 2020-21 and graduated our second cohort of 43 students in the 2021-22 academic year. Our undergraduate program has not only grown but is thriving, with motivated and excited students taking on high-level coursework in our department and across the university. Our AMath and CFRM alumni go on to positions in industry and graduate school in prestigious institutions across the world. 

What do academic advisors do?  We guide students on how to access campus resources, how to navigate major requirements and find courses relevant to their interests, and how to find and secure jobs and internships.  I started a blog for our majors and it’s been so helpful to get critical information out while also reducing the tons of email they receive!  Advisors also work to connect students, faculty, and staff in the department in various ways.  We engaged a panel of AMath postdocs who presented their research to our undergraduate majors, which allowed them to learn about a variety of projects going on in our department, and resulted in some of them working on those research projects.  We also offered a career panel of Department alumni, sharing their pathways to their current jobs and providing different perspectives of graduate school and working in industry with a degree in AMath or CFRM.  We held a couple of fun social events towards building community in our department, and celebrated our first in-person graduation ceremony that honored our graduating students!  Our first cohort of graduates were honored virtually in Spring 2021, but our second graduating cohort participated in our 2022 AMath Departmental Graduation Celebration on June 11 in Mary Gates Hall.  Graduates were presented with diploma holders and treats, and awards were given to students nominated by faculty and staff for excellence in academics and leadership.  Graduates took photos with their instructors in front of Drumheller Fountain before heading to the UW Commencement in Husky Stadium.

What’s new?  There are exciting changes coming to the undergraduate program!  Our new Data Science Option in Applied Mathematics is designed to provide students with training in data science methods and practices.  Data science continues to be a growing area of study, incorporating statistical modeling, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and optimization, among other aspects of applied mathematics.  We welcome applications from current UW students to the new Option, along with our AMath and CFRM majors, during our Autumn and Spring admissions cycles.  Also new this 2022-23 academic year is our direct-to-major admission process for transfer students.  When transfer students apply to UW in Winter for the following Autumn quarter admission, they may now apply directly to our capacity constrained majors, instead of waiting until the Autumn quarter.  This provides an opportunity for transfer students who have already taken their prerequisites to potentially enter UW in our major, allowing Period I priority registration for our courses, and helping them make concrete plans towards graduation.  Transfer students will have adequate time to complete our courses and graduate on time.

We have a great team of staff members in AMath and we’re all looking forward to working with faculty and getting to know students as Autumn quarter starts up.  Shout out to Ingrid, Karen, Katherine, Nick, Sarah, and Tony!  It’s a great time to be a part of the Department of Applied Mathematics.