Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

Rachelle DeCoste

My academic claim to fame. I’m really interested in issues of diversity in the mathematics community. I started a workshop for women finishing their PhDs in mathematics. I really feel very strongly about supporting under-represented minorities in mathematics. My Career Mentoring Workshop is a 3-day “boot camp” for women who are about to start looking for jobs; but it’s really much more than that. It gives women the opportunity to begin to build their own professional network—with peers and mentors. This network will be the one that supports them throughout their careers—anytime they need someone to lean on or give them positive feedback on what they are doing.

My message. My hope is that the workshop will really help them build a foundation of such a network. I really strongly believe in supporting women in this male-dominated field. My message is that you should go live the life you want—both personally and professionally. There are always going to be people who tell you that the choices you are making are not good ones, that you should do something else with your life, but they don’t live your life. So do what you want to do. I try to tell the Wheaton students these things, too. I hope that we give them the tools to be confident in their professional choices and know that they can do whatever it is they decide they want to do.

What keeps me excited about teaching. Curious students.  I always tell my students they should question everything and when they do, it’s great. I enjoy interacting with students inside and outside of the classroom.

What I want every Wheaton student to learn. That quantitative analysis is not just a course they have to take, but is a tool for becoming a thoughtful consumer of the information all around them. Math offers a way of thinking critically that is valuable in every discipline and facet of real-world life.

What few people know about me. I used to consider myself a percussionist and I miss it! I started playing the drums in the fourth grade and haven’t been able to play any percussion since finishing my PhD. Someday I’d like to get back into it and be a part of a percussion ensemble—maybe I can play here at Wheaton some day.