Mathematics and Philosophy majors with Spanish and Music minors
Graduate Student, Columbia University in the City of New York (currently enrolled in Columbia University’s Master’s in Bioethics Program).
“Midd gives you tenacity, versatility and the confidence to [reinvent yourself], as well as a great network! And so, here I am, in the process of reinvention, soon to graduate as an Ivy League-trained bioethicist who is also trained in Math, Comp Sci, Spanish, Music and Art History. Again, I continue to thank Middlebury (and a host of other family, friends, colleagues and mentors) for my very eclectic life and interests. My Middlebury Math/Comp Sci interdisciplinary thesis set the stage and got me through most of my career. My Midd minor in Spanish took me to many Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America, the Caribbean and Europe - imagine studying Supply Chain Management at an MIT-led program in Zaragoza, Spain - I was the translator for several of my MIT peers! It is my major in Philosophy, though, that continues to take me to all kinds of meta-levels, personally and professionally.”
Tell us what you do.
I am currently enrolled in Columbia University’s Master’s in Bioethics Program.
What have you done since Middlebury?
After Middlebury, I developed a career as a Transportation and Logistics specialist in Latin America and the Caribbean. I later studied at The Tecnológico de Monterrey in Mexico and at MIT, in Cambridge, MA, USA. At these institutions, I earned Master’s degrees in Industrial Engineering and Engineering Systems, respectively, with a focus on Supply Chain Management and Sustainability. I subsequently practiced as an Engineer for a few years in transportation technology companies. I was invited to give a few guest lectures and hold public-speaking engagements at a variety of colleges and universities in the USA, including at Middlebury College, before becoming an Engineering Lecturer and Researcher at The University of the West Indies at its St. Augustine Campus, Trinidad and Tobago, back home in the Caribbean.
How has your choice of majors influenced your life after graduation?
During my time at Middlebury the Mathematics and Computer Science departments were one department. While my academic advisor for my Philosophy major had an idea of a joint Math and Philosophy thesis for me, or a Philosophy thesis with mathematical implications, say, The Theory of Indeterminateness or The Indefinite Theorem (I’ve forgotten which exactly), my academic advisor for my Math major said, “I have just the project for you - you’re not a theoretical mathematician, but a practical one, and I see you as an administrator.” Long story short, with his initial direction, and later the advice of two more of his colleagues in the Mathematics and Computer Science department, as a great team, we were able to create a computer algorithm that revamped how Middlebury College registers students for the First Year Seminar - and our algorithm is still in use today at Middlebury - Version 4.0! I remain very thankful for the Middlebury College administrators who unanimously decided to use our algorithm. Since that fabulous demonstration of fun, interdisciplinary, inventive and implementable achievement at Middlebury, for most of my career, I have expected and have ended up using Computer Science to solve or address all kinds of real world problems - in the fields of transportation, supply chain management, logistics, remittances and climate change. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, I began formally researching, writing, presenting and being selected to publish on a variety of matters, including on digital health, Artificial Intelligence, biotechnology and bioinformatics. Not lost on me are the ethical issues at play, now that I have gone full biotech. Hence, more than ever, because of the ongoing pandemic, I am leaning on my Middlebury Philosophy major, and its subfield, Ethics, and am thrilled to now be at Columbia pursuing a Master’s degree in Bioethics.
When did you know which major you were going to choose?
Since my parents traveled the world often for their respective international consulting careers - mostly with the United Nations and The World Bank, and other development agencies, I frequently was driven along the path to and from Jamaica’s Norman Manley International Airport. Lining the road on the way to and from the airport were all these huge, churning, loaded with heavy equipment, places. Later, I learned that such places were called industrial plants. Therefore, from a very young age, I knew I wanted to be an industrial engineer, and work at places like these…wearing overalls, helmets and boots, and hearing things clink and clunk. In order to become an industrial engineer, I needed to major in Math. Physics was also required in order to be an engineer - which I took at the Advanced Placement (Level) in high school. Mistaking Metaphysics for a different kind of physics (which it really is) in a book which enraptured me in my high school library one day, is how I knew I needed to also major in Philosophy in college. Middlebury allowed me to become a double major in Math and Philosophy, as well as a double minor in Music and Spanish, with one course shy of also becoming a minor in Art History.
How did you decide what career path you wanted to pursue after graduating?
After doing the perfunctory stint on Wall Street, immediately after graduating from Middlebury, I remembered my firm childhood upbringing which was all about Latin American and Caribbean development. I researched “How can I use my Math degree and it’s focus on scheduling in the Caribbean?” Voila, the field of transportation came up! Thankfully, Jamaica had recently started its first and only high-tech urban transit company, and needed persons with technology and scheduling backgrounds. I left my Wall Street job in New York, and went back home to Jamaica to a top of the line Technology Projects Analyst job, where The Special Advisor to Jamaica’s then Prime Minister on matters of Transportation became one of my supervisors. He did his PhD at Columbia and is very pleased that years later, like him, I am now attending Columbia. My Math and Philosophy academic advisors from Midd wrote wonderful recommendations for many of my jobs, and various academic programs, post-Midd - so I was frequently told! I have also worked at and visited industrial plants in the USA, Trinidad and Tobago, Mexico and in Spain. And I just love wearing my industrial boots!
Finally, what advice or suggestions do you have for current students as they consider their post-Middlebury futures?
Evidently, I am back in school. Middlebury faculty, staff, students and alumni reinvigorated my love for the academic environment, when I was invited to Middlebury in 2017 to be a co-panelist with four other Middlebury alumni whom each had majored in Computer Science. The chair of Middlebury’s Computer Science department had claimed me as one of his Computer Science majors - oh what an honor! Since, in my day, the Math and Comp Sci departments were one, and because I also majored in Philosophy and met with the chair of Middlebury’s Philosophy department during my 2017 visit, I wholeheartedly share my advice with current students who are majors in Math, Comp Sci and Philosophy. Ultimately, as I read in a book a few years ago - maybe also in 2017: You are what you love. I have loved large-scale industrial and technological facilities from I was a child. Wait, those are, of course, no longer sustainable in our more modern Climate-conscious times. I have also loved reading and discussing deep issues with adults, even from I was a child. I used to be called ‘precocious’. If you choose your major based on subjects that you know you will love for a lifetime, you will always find ways to mix and match your interests, through recessions, global warming, pandemics and geographic relocations. What that highly accomplished but very humble panel of Middlebury Computer Scientists taught me was that life, post-Midd, will always have its ups and downs. Tech bubbles bursting, housing bubbles bursting, but a liberal arts degree, with a major of your own preference, will help to keep you afloat, or able to learn how to swim again - not only the major, but all of the Middlebury faculty, staff and your fellow students, who will become your fellow alumni, will always be there to rebuild you and to cheer you on. All but one of those four Computer Science panelists had reinvented themselves, post-Midd, at least two times. The one who didn’t have to reinvent herself still has her posh job at Microsoft, from her internship days at Midd - and she is as cool and humble as ever! Midd gives you tenacity, versatility and the confidence to do so, as well as a great network! And so, here I am, in the process of reinvention, soon to graduate as an Ivy League-trained bioethicist who is also trained in Math, Comp Sci, Spanish, Music and Art History. Again, I continue to thank Middlebury (and a host of other family, friends, colleagues and mentors) for my very eclectic life and interests. My Middlebury Math/Comp Sci interdisciplinary thesis set the stage and got me through most of my career. My Midd minor in Spanish took me to many Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America, the Caribbean and Europe - imagine studying Supply Chain Management at an MIT-led program in Zaragoza, Spain - I was the translator for several of my MIT peers! It is my major in Philosophy, though, that continues to take me to all kinds of meta-levels, personally and professionally. Hidden pun most definitely intended! My very best to you all!