With a family background in mechanical engineering, along with her own love of math, science and physics, Kelly Spangler always knew she wanted to pursue a major that aligned with her interests and strengths. After attending Spring Sing during Bison Days and sitting in on classes, Spangler knew Harding was a perfect fit and eventually found herself at home in the math department.
“Math is applicable to so many things, and I’ve seen that in my classes,” Spangler said. “We have senior research presentations that can be about anything you want, so I’ve seen a few of those and seen how math connects to absolutely anything. Even if you don’t go into high-level stuff, basic math is essential for a lot.”
Unsure of what her options might be as a math major, Spangler was influenced by friends from her home congregation who work as a chief financial officer for an electric company and another as a data analyst for a bank.
“I started to see what job opportunities I would have if I did just straight math. It’s not like I was just going to be in a cubicle all day solving math problems, so I saw what I could do with it,” Spangler said. “I’ve thought about changing my major a few times, but I honestly don’t think I could not take a math class. I know that’s what I want to do, and there’s so many job opportunities.”
Spangler has also started taking computer sciences classes and is on her way to a computer science minor, and enjoys seeing how math can be combined with other skills as well as how it can apply to day-to-day situations.
Balancing academics and social activities can be challenging, but according to Spangler, prioritizing and putting school first enables everything else to fall into place. She feels that her work as a math student is not necessarily more intensive than other majors, but it’s important to be around friends who know how to study as well as when to take breaks and go do something else.
“Harding has definitely changed my life. I remember just being here for a few weeks and I was just amazed at the environment. You really can’t describe it — everyone’s so friendly, and you can have a deep relationship with a lot of people,” Spangler said. “Everyone’s here for you. It’s not necessarily that everyone agrees on all topics, but everyone understands how we’re supposed to treat each other. Teachers, too — everyone cares about you, and it creates an environment that you don’t find anywhere else.”