Mathematics Students to Receive Five-Year Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees
BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – MAY 9, 2012 – Two students at The University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College will be the first this month to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mathematics through a five-year program in the Department of Mathematics.
Dr. Jerzy Mogilski, Chair of the department, said the concept came from a request from students to take graduate courses as they worked on undergraduate degrees and from the European model of higher education in which five-year degrees are common.
“We strongly believe that having undergraduate students take graduate courses at an early stage of their education prepares them for their professional careers and further education,” he said.
Sofia Quiroga, 23, of Brownsville and Matamoros, Mexico and Liliana Zamfir, 43, of Brownsville will receive their degrees at Spring Commencement at 8 a.m. Saturday, May 19 on the Cardenas South Hall Lawn.
“We are very proud of Liliana and Sofia for their great effort, dedication and passion,” said Mogilski. “They have proven that with hard work and determination dreams become reality and that programs like ours provide the perfect opportunity for success.”
Quiroga, of Brownsville, said she cannot wait to receive both of her degrees at Spring Commencement. She began classes at UTB in fall 2007.
“I’m really satisfied and thankful because this is a good opportunity,” she said.
She did the project “Lie Group Analysis: A Microscope of Math Modeling in Natural Science” to fulfill the master’s degree requirements. Quiroga looked at how mathematics could be used to analyze natural phenomena.
Quiroga worked as a learning assistant as she pursued her bachelor’s degree and became a research assistant and calculus tutor as she studied for her master’s degree.
Her plans after graduation are to work on alternative teaching certification and research doctoral programs.
“I don’t want to limit my knowledge,” she said.
Quiroga said she has enjoyed mathematics since she was an elementary school student. She is a Matamoros native and graduated from high school at Colegio Don Bosco.
Zamfir returned to college after earning a law degree about two decades ago in her native Romania.
“I went back just for my personal enrichment,” she said. “Even when I went to university the first time it was between math and law.”
Zamfir said she felt more prepared for college the second time around.
“I liked almost every class I took. I also liked meeting new people,” she said. “We have excellent professors here. I believed I learned something from each of them. It’s a different perspective. You do things fast and as good as you can.”
She gained teaching experience as she worked in the department’s mathematics lab.
“In my opinion students have difficulties with mathematics in sixth, seventh and eighth grades,” she said. “They get the concepts but they get stuck.”
She credited Dr. Paul-Hermann Zieschang, a Professor in the Department of Mathematics, in providing guidance on her thesis “Complete Discrete Valuation Rings.” Zamfir said the work involved spending lots of time in the library and at Starbucks. She defended her thesis three weeks ago.
“I really loved every step of writing the thesis even though it was very difficult,” said Zamfir.
Zamfir was selected to carry the College of Science, Mathematics and Technology banner at Spring Commencement.
“I feel honored,” she said.
After graduation she wants to teach on the junior college level or apply for doctoral programs. Zamfir said her ultimate goal is to have a doctorate and teach university-level courses.
Zamfir practiced law for three years in Romania before moving with her family to Los Angeles and later Brownsville.
Learn more about the degrees
The Department of Mathematics requires students have a 3.2 general grade point average and a 3.5 grade point average in mathematics courses and meet graduate studies admission requirements.
“This is all in an effort to provide alternative and accelerated paths toward graduation for students which allow them to save a considerable amount of money,” said Mogilski.
For more information contact the Department of Mathematics at 956-882-6636.