Confessions of a Professor

Confessions of a Professor

Victoria Ly, Asst. Feature Editor

Among the many career choices given to students, finding the “perfect” one might be a bit overwhelming to consider, especially at such a young age. However, for Professor Alissa Crans that was far from the case.

Graduating from Diamond Bar High school in 1995, the academically driven alumna aspired to become a teacher well before her high school years.

“I wanted to inspire and challenge students like Mr. Alcosser or Ms. Lordi. I loved my time in their classes, and I wanted to do the same for my own students.” Crans said.

After entering undergraduate school, Crans initially pictured herself as a high school math teacher. However, the professor’s love for both mathematics and music posed a difficult challenge for her when deciding her major.

“I actually applied to graduate programs in both mathematics and musicology because I wasn’t sure which I would enjoy teaching more: math or music,” Crans said.

During her high school career, she was especially involved with the school’s marching and concert band. Playing the clarinet in her college orchestra, the professor took many music history courses and still continues to pursue music as a hobby today. However, eventually after much reflection, Crans decided to pursue a career in teaching mathematics.

“You should only go to graduate school if you absolutely love the field. It’s too hard and demanding to spend five plus years of your life doing something you don’t love,” Crans advised.

Like most professors, Crans was able to finish her undergraduate work in four years and received her Ph.D in five. However, the hardest part about pursuing teaching is finding a position at a school after graduation.

“There is far more people who get Ph.D’s in math every year than there are professor jobs. Also, you do not have much control over what school you get to teach at,” the professor said.

Being fortunate enough to find a teaching opportunity in Southern California, Crans has been a professor at Loyola Marymount University for 11 years.

“I lucked out since LMU was hiring and they offered me a position. But, I could have very easily wound up teaching at a school in Pennsylvania or Colorado.”

As a professor at LMU, Crans has been able to teach all types of mathematics courses from Calculus I to senior level classes like topology, abstract algebra, and complex variables.

One benefit that goes hand-in-hand with Crans’ profession is that she has complete autonomy over her teaching schedule.

“I don’t have a boss! I can choose the textbook I use, how many exams I give, whether I assign homework. I don’t have to show my lecture notes, assignments, activities, exams or materials to anyone,” Crans said.

Aside from teaching in Southern California, she also had many opportunities to teach out-of-state and sometimes even outside of the country. In the summer of 2009 and 2010, Crans taught at LMU’s university program in Bonn, Germany.

“Our program is a summer program for students who are math/engineering majors. It gives them a way to go abroad and still satisfy the requirements of their majors,” Crans stated.

Although, academia is largely emphasized in Crans’ life, the professor also takes pleasure in traveling. Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Prague, and Vienna are some of her favorite place she has visited. Aside from traveling, Crans enjoys having an active lifestyle, biking to work every day and participating in triathlons over the summer.

“I like experiencing new places, new cultures and people and traditions, and especially new foods!” she said.