Newsletter Masthead

2021 Outstanding Senior

Photo of Sean Swalling

The department's 2021 Outstanding Senior Award is given to Sean Swalling, from Anchorage, Alaska, who graduated summa cum laude in mathematics with an emphasis in mathematics teaching. Sean writes “I initially chose WSU to simply leave my home, but not be too far away from family. I have since come to find a family right here in Pullman and would choose WSU again in a heartbeat.”

Sean entered WSU with 33 advanced placement credits, starting the mathematics major in Calculus 3, and finished his bachelor's degree in three years. In addition to coursework he wrote an honors thesis titled "Effects of Bilingual Learning on Fraction Comprehension in Mathematics."

He also became involved in a number of clubs on campus. He was a member of the Film Club, was secretary for the the Pre-service Teachers of Mathematics Club, and served as president of the Catholic Student Organization. Additionally, he worked as a residential advisor for WSU Housing, held a tutoring position, and an educational assistant position.

Department faculty member Kevin Cooper writes of Sean “He is simultaneously curious and intelligent, yet very personable, helpful, and genuine. In my class I encouraged collaboration among students, and Sean often helped others. He was very effective and patient about explaining things, and his pleasant personality made his fellow students seek him out.”

Of his choice to become a teacher, Sean notes "I have always connected with mathematics due to its logic and straightforward conclusions that help life to be a little less confusing. Also, my summer jobs have always been directed towards camp counseling or tutoring of some sort, and I have found great passion in sharing knowledge with others. Upon choosing an area of study, I looked to combine these two paths and, in such, chose secondary mathematics education. The classes offered to me in this path by the math department have been exceptional and have further cemented my career desires.”

Sean’s future plans include completing the Master’s in Teaching Program at the University of Portland, and teaching algebra in Catholic education.

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