My UMR with Jered Bright - Mathematics Faculty

Authored By: mknutson 10/17/2019

Jered BrightHow did you hear about UMR/What brought you to UMR?
While in the final year of my master's program at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, my mom saw a notice in the Post Bulletin for a faculty member position in mathematics at the University of Minnesota Rochester. I read the description and thought that it was exactly what I wanted - a small college/university setting teaching math while focusing on education and health-related disciplines. From my own knowledge at the time, I knew that UMR was just forming and I thought it would be interesting to see how it developed over time. 

What is your role at UMR?
Officially, I'm a student-based faculty member (SBF) in quantitative sciences which includes mathematics and statistics. A part of this role includes serving on various committees and work groups, which rotate over time. I'm also very involved in the Bridge Program for students in Living and Learning Communities. Some people who are around campus later in the evening might see me working with and teaching Rochester area youth as a part of the University of Minnesota's Talented Youth in Mathematics Program (UMTYMP). This is a program from the Twin Cities hosted in Rochester that attracts middle and high school students who are talented and passionate for mathematics. 

Why did you decide to do the work you are doing now?
After quickly realizing that astrophysics, my major upon entering college, was not going to work out... I continued to take math because I found it enjoyable. As I was completing liberal education requirements, I took a class where I volunteered in a high school math class, which I really enjoyed. With these catalysts, I continued learning more exciting and interesting mathematics while seeking out more experiences helping students navigate mathematics.Long story short: I wandered into the area of teaching mathematics, receiving gentle nudges from my experiences. Today, I can say that I am still very interested in both mathematics and education, though my interest has gravitated more toward education. I enjoy contemplating different educational opportunities for mathematics students and focusing on how I can create a better mathematical learning experience for them.

What is one of your favorite things about UMR?
Honestly, my favorite thing about UMR is that it is SMALL!  Having completed a bachelor’s and two master’s degrees at the U of M Twin Cities, it is difficult to develop relationships with faculty and staff as their roles look different and are confined to a very specific geographical area of campus that you might visit one semester and that is it. At UMR, that is very rarely the case -- faculty and staff are constantly moving about with students and have the opportunity for casual interactions as well as formal ones on a daily basis over multiple years. 

What is one interesting fact about you that you want others to know about you?
Coming out of high school, I was a big person, weighing approximately 350 pounds. Over many years, I have managed to work down to around 200 pounds, though that fluctuates based on the ice cream that I have had that day! Feel free to ask me about this experience as I'm happy to share if you would like to know more. Bottom line - it was a result of determination, patience and forgiveness of shortcomings. Most anyone that has interacted with me also knows that I live in my own house on our 250-acre family farm property. It is nice to be close to family!

What hobby would you get into if time and money weren’t an issue?
One of two things: teaching Zumba or operating a greenhouse that offers landscaping consulting. If you haven't tried Zumba, do it. I really enjoy gardening, taking care of plants and doing landscaping on our family farm.

What are some small things that make your day better?
Coffee of course!  Substantial or impromptu conversations (beyond the greeting in the hall), being outside, my dogs

What advice do you have for UMR students during their time here?
Two big "R" words: develop close Relationships and remember to Relax. In my 7 years at UMR, I have come to treasure the interactions with students (and staff) as do many other faculty. Make time to have academic and non-academic conversations with UMR faculty and staff; so many of us want to help you get to where you want to go! Know that we (faculty and staff) are aware of the demands on our students and we want to prioritize your learning. Remember to take time from your busy schedule to relax -- go for a walk (not in the skyway), go get a cup of coffee/tea with a friend and chat, take time to concentrate on breathing with few other distractions, or eat a small healthy snack. Be sure to prioritize your well-being.