SCC Math Department Helps Students Beyond Classroom
Math is necessary to understand the world around us.
Unfortunately, American students often fare poorly in international comparisons of mathematical abilities.
Such weakness tends to carry over into other areas and often leads to poor college performance and failure to perform well once in the work force.
Sandhills Community College has a long record of helping students overcome math struggles and become successful, not only in college, but also in their careers.
Elaine Lytton, chairperson of Sandhills' Department of Mathematics, is proud of the department's commitment to math education, evidenced in part by the many years of service each faculty member has contributed to the college.
"We have a solid math faculty at Sandhills, with very little turnover," she said. "They are here for our students. Each of our faculty has time set aside each day when students can come by for assistance."
This dedicated faculty includes husband and wife John and Judy McInerney. John McInerney served on the Southern Pines Town Council for 14 years from 1989 until 2003. He joined Sandhills in 1970. He has seen many changes at the college during his tenure.
"Of course, we have more bricks and mortar than when I first came," he said.
But the biggest change he has seen in students has been the increase in need for developmental math.
"We see a lot of students who have decided to return to school and have to learn, or in some cases, relearn math," said McInerney.
He sees the increase in technology as a contributing factor to a greater need for mathematics. "In all technology, you have to have some quantitative skills, one of which is math," he explained. "It used to be that high school students could graduate and go to work in textiles, and they really didn't need much education to be successful with their jobs, he said.
"Now, though, machines have replaced people, and that same textile worker needs to know how to operate that machine, and he or she will more than likely need to have strong math skills in order to do so," he said.
For reasons that are as varied as the students themselves, many high school graduates choose not to go directly to a four-year university. For many of these students, starting at Sandhills in the University Studies college transfer program provides the strong academic foundation they need to make a successful transition to a larger university.
Linda Chandler, math professor and coordinator of university studies, says that Sandhills not only prepares recent high school graduates, but also students coming to college after being in the work force for several years.
"There is a period of adjustment to college life for all students," Chandler said. "We do our best to provide our students with the academic, financial and technological skills and support needed to help them make a seamless and smooth transition to the university setting."
Upon acceptance to any of the University of North Carolina system institutions, students in the University Studies Program who successfully complete, with grades of C or better, the associate of arts, associate of fine arts, associate of science or transfer core diploma will have courses in the degree or diploma transfer as a block to the university.
Instructors in all University Studies college-transfer courses must have at least a master's in their area of teaching.
In addition, savings from completing the first two years of college at Sandhills prior to transferring to a four-year university can be substantial.
The maximum a student will pay at Sandhills Community College is $672 for a fall or spring semester and less than $50 in fees. Parking is free.
A state-supported university can cost this same student more than $1,800 per semester and another $750 in fees, with parking running $200 or more per semester at many UNC universities.
Richard Johnson began at Sandhills and transferred to Appalachian State University. He now works as an information systems security auditor and consultant for an accounting firm.
"The algebra classes I took at Sandhills made a direct impact on my future," Johnson said. "The Sandhills math department was vital in providing a platform for future math to come."
Learning math opens up career possibilities. A number of rewarding careers, such as architecture and engineering, require strong mathematical skills. Mathematical models are also routinely used in business and finance, as well as science and technological progress.
John Wilson, a Sandhills graduate, now works as an electrical engineer for Rambus Inc., where he designs high-speed chip-to-chip and memory interfaces for computers, gaming consoles, high-definition television sets and other various consumer electronics.
"As an engineering transfer student from Sandhills, I can attest to the fact that the math department did an excellent job of providing me with a solid math foundation," Wilson said.
Christian Sheppard, a 2005 summa cum laude civil engineering technology and surveying technologies graduate, secured employment with the Raleigh engineering firm Withers & Ravenel upon graduation from Sandhills. He is quick to note how the math courses he took at Sandhills have helped him in his career.
"I use math every day, whether it's simple adding and subtracting or more advanced trigonometry and calculus," he said. "I owe a great deal of success in my career to my mathematics professors at SCC. All of my math professors at Sandhills were willing to do whatever it took to help me. If not for their dedication to their profession, their willingness to make time for me after class and an overall passion for helping students understand math, I know I wouldn't have been as good at math as I am today."
Anyone needing more information on mathematics at Sandhills can contact Elaine Lytton at 695-3909 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about the University Studies program at Sandhills Community College, contact Chandler at chandlerl@sandhills or call 695-3961.
Contact Ed Spitler for more information on the Engineering Technology Program at 695-3797 or email@example.com.
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