Mathematics DSA Jake Fales

Jake Fales

Hometown: Kalamazoo, Michigan
Major: Mathematics
Minors: Japanese and Computer Science
Best Adjective to Describe You: Passionate

In 20 words or less, what is the best thing about being part of this department?
Numbers are everywhere. The Math department balances pure math with interdisciplinary connections that allow you to explore other interests.

What is your advice to first years and sophomores about getting connected to this department?
Start taking math classes early and stick with them. It’s easy to become overwhelmed and feel isolated when dealing with numbers and difficult concepts, but try to humanize the subject. Go to office hours, get to know your professors and classmates, and find study groups. The more human and cooperative you can make math, the more fun you’ll have and the more connected to the department you’ll be.

What is the most valuable thing you’ve learned at K?
All disciplines are related to each other in one way or another. Your work in math can help create art, fight for social justice, or lead you to become a top-notch lawyer. The K experience is not to box yourself into one area, but rather you should learn how your interests and skills may intersect with other areas, and feel confident that you can pursue those other interests.

What has been your favorite class at K? Why?
I’ve enjoyed the classes that allow me to explore multiple different interests all at once. In the math department, I’ve really enjoyed Dr. Barth’s Calc 3 class, and Dr. Nordmoe’s Math Stats class because while they both deal with some complicated math topics, they both allow us to apply the math in ways that relate to real world issues. Outside of the Math Department, I’ve been surprised how much I’ve enjoyed classes in religion, political science, and philosophy, because those classes all bring together students from different backgrounds where everyone’s voice is beneficial to the learning environment.

How have you taken advantage of the open curriculum or experienced breadth in your education?
Since my first year, I’ve made it a goal to balance any STEM class with classes in other disciplines. As a first-year, I took philosophy, political science, and film classes and loved them all. Now, I’m finishing a major and two minors, with a third minor still possible for me to complete. I’ve learned that those classes outside of my own major have actually helped sharpen the skills that allow me to succeed within my major, and likewise the skills I’ve developed within my major almost always are useful in doing well in those classes outside of my major.

What experiential education opportunities have you participated in?
I am a captain of the lacrosse team and a representative for the Student Athlete Advisory Committee. I’ve worked a few teaching jobs, as an English TA for the local Academically Talented Youth Program and a math specialist for Kalamazoo Upward Bound. I’ve also served as a photographer for a few campus events.

What is your SIP?
I will be exploring racial disparities in administration of pain killers in EMS calls nationwide.

What are your career aspirations/next steps after K?
Honestly, I don’t have a really strong idea of what I’m doing after K. The current plan may involve moving towards a career in Data Science, but I’m open to any opportunities that might come.