Profound Professors: Dr. Melinda Gann

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Dedicated. Caring. Intentional. Hilarious. Joyful. Wise. Intelligent. Passionate. Profound. These are the qualities Dr. Gann's students ascribe to her. Even students who aren't fond of Dr. Gann's subject, mathematics, sing her praises. As I talked to Dr. Gann, it was obvious that she cares deeply about her students and is passionate about her job. 

From the time you set your foot on campus, you are a person not a number. You get tenured professors in freshmen classes. You are advised one-on-one. I tutor my students in my own office. You truly do have the advantage of being mentored by a Christian adult in your discipline.
                                                            Dr. Melinda Gann, courtesy of the Beacon 

                                                            Dr. Melinda Gann, courtesy of the Beacon 

Her College Experience 

Some students come to college and know without a doubt know which major is right for them. That was not Dr. Gann, who felt like she was floundering. She wanted to honor God, but at the same time, she felt as if God wasn't giving her direction about her career path. Eventually though, Dr. Gann realized that God was telling her that He didn't care what profession she chose. It wasn't that He didn't care about her, but that He was going to let her pick and use her choice to glorify His name. Then a computer science major, Dr. Gann realized that she had always enjoyed school and learning, so she decided to become a teacher. 

Her Subject

Dr. Gann fell in love with teaching math when she realized that she had the ability to empower students. Sometimes she will have students that don't believe they are intelligent or simply unable to do  math, but Dr. Gann thrives in the moment when she can show them that those are not true statements. For Dr. Gann, there is nothing more rewarding than seeing a student's face light up with understanding and confidence.  

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Her Advice 

Dr. Gann can vividly remember Dr. Swor, a close friend,  telling a student something that she wished someone had told her when she was struggling to choose a major. Those words were simply, "Decide what you would do for free, and do that. Then praise the Lord that you get to do it." Dr. Gann expanded on this thought, using math to back up her point saying: 

There are only twenty-four hours in a day, and you are going to spend at least eight hours of that at your job. Eight out of twenty-four is a third, and no amount of money is worth a third of your life. If what you want to do happens to make you a lot of money then great. If what you really want to do doesn’t make you a whole lot of money, I wouldn’t fret about it. If someone had just told me that, it would have saved me a lot of stress. You only get a limited amount of time here. Do what you love.

Why Study Math?

Unfortunately,  math is quite often taught as number-crunching and exercise completion, but according to Dr. Gann, math is the science of problem-solving. The skills that you use to solve a pure math problem are the same skills that you use to solve problems in your marriage. It teaches you how to think, and so it translates into lots of avenues. Mathematics students can be doctors, lawyers, politicians, and teachers, but even more so, Dr. Gann thinks that mathematics can be especially useful to Christians. Many times Christians shy away from science and math, but in fact, both provide support for their beliefs and teach them how to present their case logically to the world. 

Her Legacy 

At the end of the day, Dr. Gann's goal is to love well. Whether it's preparing her future teachers to teach, tutoring a student, or simply giving some motherly advice, Dr. Gann does just that. Those who have the privilege of knowing Dr. Gann agree that she serves the field of mathematics, Mississippi College, and Christ in a way that is truly profound. If you want to know more about Dr. Gann, check out the Beacon's article, When the Odds Seem Stacked Against You

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