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Mathematics Grad to Pursue a Ph.D. and Career in Academia

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I am a senior mathematics major. I am thankful to all the faculty members who have supported me during my undergraduate career and have prepared me for graduate school. 

When I first came to Cal State Fullerton, I was nervous that I wasn’t good enough to be a math major. My teachers and friends were hesitant when I told them I wanted to pursue a math degree. I decided to do it anyway because math was the only thing I wanted to study.  

During my second year at CSUF, I took multivariable calculus with Dr. Bogdan Suceavă and I instantly loved the subject. From that moment, Dr. Suceavă took me under his wing and started to show me what a career in academia would look like. That’s when I decided to pursue mathematical research — in hopes to go to graduate school. 

I am grateful that I was compensated for this research with the help of the donors. Last year, I was a participant in the Math Summer Research Program at CSUF, which allowed me to fund my research throughout the summer. I have also received two scholarships during my time at CSUF, the Russell V. and Betty L. Benson Scholarship for Undergraduate Mathematics Students and the Stiel Prize for Excellence in Mathematics. These awards and scholarships have given me and CSUF students unique opportunities in scientific research that are not typically found at other schools.

I realized that undergraduate research is not common or hard to access at other universities. Many of my friends, family and former teachers are surprised that I get the opportunity to do research. But in my perspective, it is normal at Cal State Fullerton. Most of my peers are also doing research or working on a project. I noticed that there are a lot of professors seeking out students to do research with them, which is amazing because many students don’t know where to start with undergraduate research. 

In my experience, over the last two years, I have worked with Dr.  Suceavă in research in geometry and analysis. Our most notable work, “Applications of the Squeeze Theorem to Limiting Processes Involving Riemann Integration,” co-authored with Class of 2021 graduate Brian Becsi, student Solomon Huang and lecturer Ashley Thune-Aguayo, has been accepted to the College Mathematics Journal. I also recently defended my senior honors thesis for the University Honors Program.

With these research opportunities, I was able to learn the process of submitting to a journal and I got to present my work at various events. Last semester, I was able to present my research at the Department of Mathematics’ Problem Solving Seminar and the MAA (Mathematical Association of America) SoCal Section Meeting. These experiences have allowed me to grow in public speaking and made me a more competitive applicant for graduate schools. 

After I graduate, I will attend UC Irvine in September to pursue a Ph.D. in pure mathematics. I hope to continue my exploration in geometry, analysis and math education while I am there. I was only able to get this opportunity with the support of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and the Department of Mathematics. 

Congratulations to all the award recipients and student researchers.

Submitted by Verenalei “Lulu” Schoenfeld, who is earning a bachelor’s degree in mathematics-pure mathematics concentration

Lulu gave this speech at the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics Virtual Awards Celebration, which recognized graduating students, scholarship and award winners and donors. She is in the University Honors Program, a Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) participant and a Supplemental Instruction leader. Her goal is to become a professor so she can continue to support students in their college endeavors. 

Debra Cano Ramos