Mentoring Peers Leads Student to Meaningful Experiences in Mathematics

Stacey Abshire | Undergraduate | Mathematical Sciences

(Update: Abshire is now pursuing a master's degree in Higher Education and Student Affairs at IUPUI. She also works in the University College as a graduate assistant in Academic and Career Development, is a Student Success Advisor and coordinates the STAR mentoring program for reinstated students.)

It’s tough to decide your future while in high school, but for Stacey Abshire a lucky break came in the form of the IUPUI High School Math Contest. Competing in the contest introduced her to the potential and excitement of understanding the world through mathematics.

“Working on questions in the contest was so much fun,” she said. “I never had seen such interesting mathematics before. Competing made me want to major in math because I wanted to keep learning.Abshire

Since deciding to pursue a degree in applied mathematics at IUPUI, Abshire has found purpose in helping others to better understand mathematics while working at the Math Assistance Center (MAC). The MAC is a service of the Department of Mathematical Sciences and University College that offers tutoring and peer mentoring to all mathematics students. Tutors such as Abshire, work as paid or scholarship employees, making math accessible and achievable to their peers.

Abshire believes it is the collaborative and casual one-on-one interactions students have with mentors that make the MAC so effective at helping students to learn. 

“I feel like I have more of an impact because it is easier to tailor what I’m teaching to what each individual student understands,” Abshire said. “Because of the constant feedback I receive from students, I understand what they get and don’t get.”

This environment is not only beneficial to students seeking tutoring; it also helps mentors to better understand what they know by explaining it to others. Abshire says that working as a mentor at the MAC has helped to reinforce what she already knows while showing her there is still much to learn.

Working with Kevin Berkopes, executive director of the MAC, also helped Abshire to solidify her views on what math education should be like. Berkopes along with her advisors Kelly Matthews and Laura Masterson showed Abshire the many career possibilities a mathematics education opens up.

“Talking with my advisors and mentors reaffirmed that I love math and want to keep working with students.”

After graduation, Abshire plans to pursue a master’s degree in higher education and student affairs to work in academic advising, career advising, or academic resource programs such as the MAC.