Stephanie Kliethermes, ’07

My years at Lawrence University can be described as nothing less than transformative, influential and inspiring. The transformation began the first time I set foot on campus as a high school senior, and my experiences at LU continue to shape and support my current endeavors as a PhD student in Biostatistics at the University of Iowa. I think the saying goes, “You don’t know what you’ve got, until it’s gone.” Yet, even though I become more aware (with each passing year) of the unique and fundamental ways in which Lawrence impacted me, I feel LU is, and always will be, fully ingrained in much of what I do as a scholar and a person. That’s how special Lawrence is.

I began college thinking that I wanted to pursue a career in journalism or communications; however, I was instantaneously captivated by the math department. Integrity, accountability, effort, motivation, perseverance, honesty, loyalty, and affability are just a few of the qualities and skills I honed while at LU. These qualities were, and still are, critical to my success as a student, a professional and a friend; and interestingly enough these characteristics are nowhere to be found in the curriculum requirements for a degree in mathematics (or any other major at LU).

I feel extremely lucky that the math department is full of inspired faculty with priorities that extend beyond teaching such as befriending, mentoring and encouraging each and every student as both a scholar and an individual. The department, and LU as whole, equally values the learning that takes place within the classroom as well as outside the classroom. In their minds, this learning is not limited to the content they present or that which can be found in the course textbook; they recognize and value the entire college experience for what it can give. I can’t think of a better way or place to learn and grow. The department demands a lot out of their students, but the amount they give back in knowledge, time and compassion far surpasses these expectations. And in the end, the students have an opportunity to come away with not only important communication and thinking skills, but also the confidence and desire to succeed and pursue their own individual paths beyond Lawrence.

I am forever grateful to Lawrence, and the faculty within the math department, for planting the seeds and helping them grow. Despite entering graduate school in biostatistics with very little statistical background compared to my fellow classmates, I quickly realized just how prepared I was for the challenges of graduate work as a result of my courses, experiences and efforts at Lawrence. I certainly attribute much of my success in graduate school and my growth as an individual to the faculty with whom I interacted, to the students and friends who helped me through, and to Lawrence as a whole for giving me the space to find my own strengths, interests and dreams. I cannot be more honest when I say: it truly is a remarkable place.

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