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Jill Ryerson '01

If I had to pick the one person who had the greatest influence in my professional career, without a doubt, it would be Prof. Banchoff. I arrived at Brown in 1995 pre-enrolled in MA18, and by some act of fate (I like to think) I ran into my brother's friend, Jeremy Kahn, who told me I had to at least visit MA35 (with Banchoff) and consider taking it instead. After one class I was sold. I don't think I even went to shop MA18. That first class led to many more encounters with Prof. Banchoff. He became my advisor during my sophomore year, and I became a TA for MA10, MA54, and MA8. I also ended up taking two more courses (and an independent study) from Prof. Banchoff (MA 141 and 106).

I have never sat down to calculate the number of hours that I spent watching Prof. Banchoff teach, but there were many! I have vivid memories of coming out of class blown away by the craft of his teaching. His ability to tie loose ends together, bring topics full circle, and pose questions that not only make student think but more importantly make students want to think always astounded me. Like many college students, I reached a point in the middle of my sophomore year when I became confused about what I wanted to study and what I wanted to do once I completed those studies. My decisions to finish a degree in Math and Visual Arts and to become a math teacher were greatly influenced by Prof. Banchoff's encouragement.

I am currently in my third year of teaching, and I know that the countless hours I spent watching Prof. Banchoff teach have impacted my teaching style. I also know that his passion for mathematics influenced the way I think about math. I began Brown as someone who happed to do well in math and as a result enjoyed the subject. But I left Brown as someone who developed a much deeper passion for the subject. I vividly remember a day in MA141 when Banchoff came to class straight from the barber. We spent the majority of the class talking about the barber combing his hair. In true Banchoffian style, he connected it to everything we had been talking about that week. At the time (this was my sophomore year identity crisis), I thought to myself, "I can't be a math major . . . I don't think about math when I get my hair cut!" Yet, now I find myself walking down the street and looking at the work through the lenses of mathematics all the time. After four years at Brown, I developed an appreciation for the beauty of mathematics. I attribute this transformation to the time I spent working with Prof. Banchoff. Without a doubt, this was the greatest gift I received from him, and I consider my passion for math the most important thing I bring to my own classroom. By the way, my students think I'm nuts, especially when they find out that I sometimes wake up in the middle of the night thinking about math! I suppose I have to thank you for that too!

— Jill Ryerson
November 2003

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Created: 06 Nov 2003
Last modified: Nov 6, 2003 8:26:22 AM
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