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Alissa at the apex: I miss algebra

Monstera Production
Campus Editor and English major Alissa Van Dress divulges her true feelings about math.

As an English major and dedicated writer, I somewhat conform to the stereotype of disliking math. Upon entering college, I rejoiced at the fact that I would not need many math courses to complete my degree.

Some would say that I dodged a bullet, while others say that they would dread the idea of reading and writing everyday. I never thought that I would miss my least favorite subject, but here I am, mourning derivatives, the unit circle and algebraic formulas.

While I appreciate all subjects, ironically, I find algebra’s ability to yield one answer perplexing. How can a lengthy equation present just one answer? My creative mind struggles to comprehend the real notion of exactness because I tend to think in abstract, open-ended terms. After taking a dozen math classes in my life, it is false to assume that math always generates one answer. But, it can help one draw conclusions about life.

Still, I catch myself thinking, why am I studying this subject when it doesn’t apply to me? I’d rather write a story or listen to music because that means something to me. That is what evokes joy for the kind of person that I am. It turns out, math does matter and it does apply to me.

Math is a metaphor for life. It teaches me a universal lesson about simplification. Like algebraic equations, life is best examined in its simplest form. It takes effort to navigate some of life’s extraneous baggage. Through patience, the trite variables can be solved and equality is gained.

Upon this revelation, I realized that English and math are not so different after all. Both disciplines require the learner to analyze; both can be equally as theoretical. Maybe, math can be for me too.

The next time I say or think that math is inscrutable, I will remember the concept of balancing the equation. Maybe math and English are equals in their simplest, exact form. However, they both have a number of variables attached to them that make them appear as though they are polar opposites. Even through some differences, they have their connections.

Take one number at a time, slowly. In time, it becomes second nature. The root unravels, and the answer is clear. Even if it yields a multidimensional answer, that is okay. To claim it as having “infinitely many” is still one answer that can draw conclusions.

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About the Contributor
Alissa Van Dress
Alissa Van Dress, Campus Editor
Alissa Van Dress is a junior English major from Amherst, Ohio. She has a concentration in professional writing with minors in business, creative writing and Spanish and Hispanic Studies. Previously, Alissa served as the copy editor at The Carroll News. In addition to her current role as campus editor, Alissa is a JCU football and basketball cheerleader, a writing consultant at the JCU Writing Center, works as a digital engagement ambassador for the JCU Carroll Fund, and serves on the visual arts committee for The Carroll Review. Also, she is honored to have co-founded the Theatre Club at John Carroll University. Other than writing, some of Alissa's favorite hobbies include musical theater, vocal performance, fashion, dance and cheerleading/acrobatics. After graduation, Alissa plans to write for children's entertainment.

To contact Alissa, email her at [email protected].

Comments (2)

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  • N

    Nick HaselwoodOct 23, 2023 at 5:26 pm

    I’ve never thought of looking at math this way. This article really helped to change my perspective on the way information can affect the world around us, even if we don’t consciously think about it.

    Great stuff Alissa! Keep it up!

  • T

    Tate FarinacciOct 18, 2023 at 11:43 am

    I miss algebra too!! Great column