Wako Tasisa Bungula
Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Please describe an experience (or 2) that helped you discover/cultivate your interest in the mathematical sciences.
In middle and high school, I remember being interested in geometry, specifically congruent polygons. I couldn’t get enough of proving that two triangles (or polygons) were congruent using SSS, SAS, ASA theorems. The fact that every step/statement had to be justified made sense because I wasn’t happy when someone stated a fact and expected me to believe it. My mind was curious as to why two angles were equal or two sides were equal. As I worked to understand and justify every step, others began to approach me and ask if I could explain. That is when I realized a career choice involving both teaching and geometry (or math in general) would be ideal.
Calculus I, Abstract Algebra, Linear Algebra, Number Theory, Mathematical Statistics, … are among the classes that confirmed my passion for math was real. So, I decided to pursue a graduate degree in mathematics. After earning a bachelor’s in Math and Physics from Texas Lutheran University, I went to the University of Iowa for my graduate studies, where I studied Topological Data Analysis.
What is/are your most proud accomplishment(s) in regards to your career in the mathematical sciences?
As an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse, I had two students approach me showing interest in doing an independent study with me. Since this was my first semester, I was very proud to touch these students that in the very short period of time they spent with me, they wanted to learn more math. As an educator, that was the proudest moment!
Please share some words of wisdom/inspiration.
“When you educate one person you can change a life, when you educate many you can change the world” – Shai Reshef
As an educator, this quote reminds me that I should always do more.