Anna Cepek (’12)

Anna Cepek (2012)Anna, a 2012 Bethany graduate, recently completed her PhD in mathematics from Montana State University and is headed to South Korea for a post-doc fellowship where she will continue to pursue advanced work in configuration spaces of manifolds

WHAT YOU DO • • • As a teacher’s assistant, I teach one class a semester. As a graduate student, my studies are focused around pure mathematics, as the pure subjects have been more of an interest to me the last few years. My workday consists of studying, reading, prepping for class, teaching, learning, grading, tutoring, and doing homework.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU • • • Math is the most challenging subject that I have ever studied, and that is partly why I am drawn to it. Almost everyday I find what I’m learning to be hard and somewhat confusing. But in the moment when I do finally understand, that extreme difficulty is what makes my realization all the greater. The challenge is only one of the reasons I love math. In its nature, mathematics is pure logic. That is, at its core, math cannot be “sensed” as most things are. I do not see things in math to verify that they exist. Nor do I touch, taste, smell, or hear them. Yet they do exist. They exist as ideas which I can verify to be true only after I logically prove them. I find this to be most fascinating because generally when we think about what God has created in this world, we think of all the things we can sense, physically and emotionally. But it appears as though God didn’t stop there. Within all the things that we can sense, God created patterns. Outside of all the things that we can sense, God created patterns. God even created patterns that, as far as we can tell, aren’t applicable to anything; they are ideas, sewn together by logic as fact. But here they are. Existing in our world. Over the years, as people delved deeper into the study of mathematics, they discovered these patterns that God created for us to find, not solely with our senses, but with our minds. And as God created the tangible natural world with the utmost beauty, you can probably guess that God too created this non-tangible “world” of His patterns with the utmost beauty. I love exploring and spending time in that “world.” It is so intricate and overwhelmingly vast – another wonderful way God shows us a bit of His glory.

HOW YOU WANT TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE • • • My goal is to study and research my way up to obtaining my Ph.D. so that my real passion can be pursued – teaching math. Since high school, I have found much enjoyment in explaining math to people. But I’ve also noticed that most people have a pretty bad mindset when it comes to mathematics. I find this to be tragic, as I think math is one of the most fascinating, challenging, useful, and beautiful subjects. So pairing my love of teaching with my love of math, I want to change this poor mindset which is so prevalent in our country, one person at a time, by showing them the beauty that I see in math.

HOW BETHANY HAS PREPARED YOU • • • When I was moving to Bethany at the start of my freshman year, I had no idea that God was about to bless me in such a substantial way. I can assuredly say that being there the last four years has shaped and will continue to shape so much of my life. Most of what lead me to where I am and what I’m doing today was created, inspired and encouraged through professors and friends at Bethany. However, if I had to pinpoint the most influential aspect of my time there, I’d say that it was God’s Word being in the heart of the school. If Bethany didn’t make the Gospel such a priority, it wouldn’t have had its proper place in academia, which from looking at the world around us, is clearly a very dangerous thing. Also, sharing the same faith as my professors was absolutely wonderful. Not only did I look up to many of my professors in their academic life, but also in their spiritual and family life. Having the common ground of faith gave way to developing priceless relationships, in which we were not only teacher and student, but brothers and sisters in Christ, and friends. Some of those relationships will truly last my whole life.

WHAT YOU REMEMBER MOST • • • Being incredibly and uncharacteristically social my first few months. Techno dance parties on the green. Early morning runs through the smell of soybeans. Being so nervous the night before my first basketball practice. Chapel services. Sledding with garbage can lids. Being introduced to good music. Running 16s for basketball. Pulling too many all-nighters for calculus problem sets. Julie Kjeer rapping about differential equations. My no sleeping experiment. Tornado weather in the summer. The Tav. Exploring the woods below Old Main. Doing homework in Luther Hall. The maintenance guys! Basketball trips. Pick-up games.

ADVICE FOR CURRENT STUDENTS • • • Keep striving for that perfect balance between school and fun. Find something that you love to learn, and pursue it. Keep growing.