Enjoy the Ride: Video Transcript

Edward Boone, PhD (MS Mathematics, Miami, 1997) [Associate Professor of Statistics at Virginia Commonwealth University]: I usually tell people I fell backwards into everything because I grew up in a family where no one went to college. I am the first generation to go to college. I paid my own way the entire way.

When I was an undergraduate I thought I wanted to be an engineer, and I started taking mathematics courses, and a professor just grabbed me and said "Hey, do you realize you’re good at this?" Coming from a background of not having a lot of college graduates or any college graduates around, it really caught me that somebody thought that I was good at something, especially academic, and that's what made me fall in love with mathematics, which led me to pursue a masters degree here at Miami.

I was very intrigued by not only the applications of mathematics but the beauty of it and what most people don't really realize about mathematics—they think, "Oh, mathematics, I hated algebra." But there's a whole beauty behind it that I wish people could see, and Miami gave me the ability to really see the beauty behind mathematics and to be able to do my current research, which is a blend of statistics and mathematics.

The faculty were amazing at helping me as a student. They were always attentive. I don't remember ever going to an office where somebody said, "Come back later." They were always very open, which was a big shock to me because I was very much used to people being behind closed doors, and they were very open, and that was a huge, huge resource that really helped me succeed.

In camaraderie as a graduate student I had friends who were from Belize, I had friends who were from China, I had friends who were not only friends in the sense of they're your friends but we're having a shared experience together, and they were sharing with me their culture, and I could help them learn about the culture in the U.S.

Just the ability to be enlightened and expand my horizons was really impressive, and that's not something I'd had the opportunity to do before.

I have a 17-year old daughter who is thinking of going to college, and she says, "What am I going to do for a job?" and I said, "Maybe you should think about what is your passion," and liberal arts degrees allow you to pursue your passion and allow you to find yourself within that passion without focusing on exactly what career path I'm on. Because as you grow older you'll see that life takes you on many different paths, and a liberal arts education gives you the ability to not only succeed on that path but actually enjoy the ride.

The advice I would give a student who is studying math or statistics is to learn how to computer program, and this is the reason why. I obtained a master's degree in mathematics from Miami University, I obtained a job as a forecast analyst for a major retailer, and immediately I was told, "You're going to make a computer application," and I hadn't learned how to program effectively at that point.

Knowing how to computer program is essential because your employer expects you to know how to program. Not only do they expect you to how to program, but if you love to program and learn to love it, you will keep your job forever or as long as you want.

[April 2015]