Point of view important part of decision-making, grads told at commencement

CULLOWHEE – Western Carolina University Chancellor John W. Bardo conferred degrees on approximately 370 students as the university held summer commencement exercises Friday, Aug. 9.

In her commencement address, Kathy M.C. Ivey, WCU associate professor of mathematics, spoke to the crowd of graduates, family members and friends gathered at the Ramsey Regional Activity Center about the importance of “point of view,” particularly the mathematical point of view that she tries to impart to her students.

“Students in my classes quickly learn that I ask lots of questions. ‘Why’ is probably my favorite,” Ivey said.

“In almost every one of my classes, there comes a point when someone will give me an answer and continue with ‘and I guess you want to know why.’ That’s one of the times when I know that I have succeeded in my goal to help students learn to think mathematically. A student who recognizes the importance of justification is one who has picked up one part of a mathematic point of view,” she said.

“While a student here at Western, each of you has had the opportunity to think about ideas, events and objects from a variety of points of view,” Ivey told the graduates. “Your teachers have helped you to look at things through the lenses that are particular to their disciplines. By using the different modes of thinking and analyzing that you have encountered, you can shift your point of view so as to examine a situation from multiple angles. Which job should you take? When should you continue with your formal education? The methods that you choose to use in examining your questions and decisions will ultimately influence the choices that you make,” she said.

“My hope for you, graduates, is that long after you have forgotten some specific tidbit of information from a certain class, you will still be using the different ways of thinking that you have experienced while a student,” Ivey said.

“What you take away as your education is not just a collection of facts, skills and techniques that you have studied, but more importantly, the points of view that you have encountered and the ways of thinking that you have tried. What you do with them will determine how you see your world and how you interact in that world,” she said.

“I hope for all of you the success that comes from hard work, persistence and the ability to look at problems from different points of view.”

Earlier this year, Ivey was recognized as one of The University of North Carolina system’s premier teachers when she was named one of 16 recipients of the UNC Board of Governors Awards for Excellence in Teaching.

Among the graduating class at WCU’s Aug. 9 commencement were 22 Jamaican educators who were awarded master’s degrees in educational supervision, and another 35 residents of Jamaica who received bachelor’s degrees in education.

The ranks of graduates also included 23 students who are the first to receive degrees through Western’s master of science in nursing degree program.