This is the eighth in a series of Garfield Log stories that feature students and professors who share the type of connections that define the ideal college, just as famous Hiram alumnus President James A. Garfield intended. Today on the Garfield Log, Claire Esposito, a sophomore majoring in mathematics with a licensure in education, joins her favorite professor, Cathy Erbes, Ph.D., assistant professor of mathematics.
Claire, what makes professor Erbes stand out as your favorite professor?
Cathy Erbes is my favorite professor because of her efforts in and outside of the classroom. I know I can go to Cathy with questions I have in any math class – her class or not. She constantly challenges me to think about math in different ways and to challenge myself. Cathy is constantly encouraging me, telling me to keep pushing and that I can do it! She also is a fantastic teacher who keeps her classroom engaged and an open, friendly environment. Cathy not only helps me in math, but is always willing to give me a listening ear and a bit of advice.
Professor Erbes, how does it feel to be selected by Claire as her favorite professor?
I am honored that Claire chose me as her favorite professor.
Claire, what is your favorite memory that you’ve shared with this professor?
There are so many memories after just two semesters, but my favorite has to be when we realized we had the same initials, CE. I’m pretty sure it came up in some sort of notation in a problem, and we both kind of said, “Hey those are my initials… wait, no, those are my initials…what??,” and then laughed about it. And it is still quite weird to have the same initials, but cool all the same.
Professor Erbes, what makes Claire stand out as a student?
The main thing that makes Claire stand out is that she is always willing to ask questions and eager to challenge herself. Many people will give up when they have difficulty understanding something, but she does not – she just asks more questions! This makes her great to have in class, both as a role model for other students, and for the conversations that are generated by her questions.
Claire, what would be your dream class to take?
My dream class would probably be about the beginnings of food … [about] how we started to become a cooking society. I took Elements of the Kitchen with Carol Shreiner and Culture of Food with Erin Lamb, which were pretty much dream classes, but this class could be something about the very beginnings and be a new dream class.
Professor Erbes, what would be your dream class to teach?
I would love to teach a class where we build mathematical objects. I’m talking about things like polyhedral, knots, Klein bottles or strange surfaces. Many people have made these things with knitting or crochet, origami, glass blowing or other techniques. I would love to have a class where we could learn how to do these ourselves.
Claire, how has professor Erbes helped prepare you for the future?
Professor Erbes has prepared me for the future in many ways. She has taught me what it means to persevere and push through. There are many frustrations in math and many times you just want to give up. Cathy has taught me that it’s OK to be frustrated. Instead of giving up, take a break and pick it back up. That has applied to many aspects of my life … friendships, different classes, family, self-confidence … I am so grateful for professor Erbes being in my life and inspiring me to continue to pursue my passion even when it feels impossible.