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She's Getting a Math Ph.D., but She'll Always Love Coding


Amelia Mattern '12 and the English class she worked with during her Fulbright teaching assistantship in Vietnam
Amelia Mattern '12 and the English class she worked with during her Fulbright teaching assistantship in Vietnam

In high school, when her big brother told her she would love computer science, Amelia Mattern ’12, refused to believe him. At Hamilton, when her friends extolled their computer science intro course, she was more open to the idea and signed up.

“Well, after about one week I was hooked. We would have weekly lab assignments that I would go home and code up in one afternoon, completely ignoring my other assignments because I was so addicted,” Mattern says.

She’d planned to major in math and French but scraped that idea to major in math and computer science, swayed in part by the quality of the instruction.

The computer science program at Hamilton doesn’t aim to pump out coder after coder into the software-developing field, Mattern says.

“The computer science program at Hamilton focuses more on producing students who may be efficient programmers, but more importantly students who see the big picture. What ways can we use the concepts and skills of computer science to improve peoples' lives? Where is that bridge between computer science and neuroscience? How does computer science relate to the rest of the world?” Mattern says. “In a true liberal arts manner, the computer science program at Hamilton teaches students to consider computer science from more than one angle.”

In her senior year at Hamilton, Mattern won a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship and spent the year after she graduated working in Vietnam, then earned a master’s degree in math at the University of Vermont. She’s now in year two of a doctoral program in math at the University of Binghamton. Her goal is to be a professor at a small, liberal arts college.

"I would argue that training my mind to think like a programmer has often helped me solve a difficult proof or find a new way of explaining a difficult concept to another student,” she says.

 

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