Spring 2003


Hats Off

Dear WSU Alumni Association:

I joined Oracle Corp. (where I work as a senior software engineer) in Redwood Shores, Calif., last March and am doing very well. I always remember my days at Wichita State. Hard work and long hours at lab with excellent school facilities are responsible for what I am professionally today. I met amazing people and learned about different cultures. All of these things have made me a better person.

Hats off to WSU.

Anand Prasad ’97
Mountain View, Calif.

Keeping in Touch

Dear WSU Alumni Association:
As a graduate of WSU, the University of Illinois and Yale, I find the WSU alumni programs and staff to be outstanding. I am currently living in Illinois, and I find that keeping in touch is very worthwhile.


Dennis Gilbert ’75
Monmouth, Ill.

Learning to Love Mathematics

Dear The Shocker:

I’m taking a moment to write you about some of my WSU experiences that have shaped my professional life. I didn’t start out to be a mathematics major. In fact, the idea never occurred to me until I was well into my college career, even though I’d always liked math and done well. But liking math was not something that a girl going to high school in the 1970s would easily admit to. It seemed embarrassing and slightly shameful to me for a girl to like math and be good at it. I started out as a nursing major in college.

Pi Symbol

But a couple of years and several nurse’s aide jobs later, I came to realize that nursing was not what I wanted to do.

I floundered for a bit after that: first, a business major (my father’s recommendation, later a psychology major (still a strong interest of mine). I ended up in mathematics primarily due to the influence of two professors. I had quit college (University of Kansas) in my senior year to get married and moved to Wichita.

I decided to return to college a year or so later and went to classes in the evening while working days as a clerk in an insurance office. I was taking math classes because I liked math and the math department offered advanced courses in the evening, when I could take classes.

I started out at WSU with Calculus III, taught by Dr. Bajaj, a small, slender man who spoke softly with the distinctive and lyrical cadence of his native India. He possessed great skill and patience in teaching and was able to communicate complex concepts to even the lowest-level student. He gave me the confidence in myself I needed to continue on with mathematics.

It would be hard to find an instructor with a style more directly opposite that of Dr. Bajaj’s — and that would be Dr. Perel. Gruff and cantankerous, he could terrify and intimidate students by merely raising a single eyebrow.

But he had a way of teaching mathematics that I would become completely caught up in. He would go over proofs, and I was spellbound. I was transported to realms of beauty, mystery, elegance and eternal truth.

Dr. Perel taught me not just how to do math but to appreciate its splendor, experience its grandeur and love math without shame or embarrassment. For that I shall always be grateful.

Beth Clarkson ’84/91

Editor’s Note: Elizabeth Clarkson teaches mathematics and statistics at Wichita State.