Cathy Gorini – A Mathematics Professor Who Teaches from Her Heart

Cathy Gorini – A Mathematics Professor Who Teaches from Her Heart

It’s a great pleasure to introduce Professor Cathy Gorini, who has a Ph.D. in Mathematics from the University of Virginia. Her Masters of Software Development (MSD) students say she deserves an award for being such an amazing professor who teaches from her heart and makes sure every student understands each lesson. Learn more about the role of mathematics in becoming an accomplished software developer, the consciousness-based approach to mathematics that Professor Cathy employs in her classes, and why she is such a wonderful teacher.

Interview by Christine Albers (CA)

CA: What brought you to MIU, Cathy?

Cathy: I love talking about Mathematics, and sharing anything to do with Mathematics. After I learned TM, I noticed I was much better at Mathematics because I could think more clearly and deeply and focus better. When I heard about the university I thought, okay that’s it, that’s where I want to teach. It was instant. I knew this would be the best place for me. I wrote to Dr. Michael Weinless, who was Mathematics chair then, and told him I wanted to teach at MIU. I arrived here in 1978.

CA: Did you teach Math at other universities before coming to MIU?

Cathy:  I taught at the University of Virginia as a teaching assistant, and then at Pembroke State University in North Carolina, and Rhode Island College but I was struggling to connect with my students and help them understand Mathematics. After becoming a TM teacher in 1975, I realized I could explain mathematical concepts much more easily by including concepts from Consciousness-based education (CBE), but I couldn’t use CBE concepts there. I wanted to come to MIU where I could use CBE concepts and be a more effective teacher.

CA: Can you talk about Consciousness-based Education and Mathematics?

Cathy: Mathematics is abstract, so students have to be able to think at an abstract level. When they practice TM, their minds become familiar with deeper levels of thinking, and understanding Mathematics is easier. It has to do with the nature of Mathematics, which is abstract, so having direct access to those abstract levels makes all the difference.

CA: Do you notice a difference between MIU students versus students at other universities where you taught?

Cathy: The main difference is in terms of the depth of the student’s thinking. MIU students can understand abstract concepts more deeply and that is fulfilling for me as a teacher.

CA: What subjects do you teach?

Cathy: This year I taught two Discrete Mathematics classes for MSD students, one in December and one in June. I also teach Calculus to undergrads in mathematics, physics, and computer science, and also a course called Geometry for the Artist for art students.

CA: Why are MSD students learning Mathematics and how does it apply to becoming a Software Developer?

Cathy: It applies because the topics we cover are graph theory, set theory, logic, and Boolean algebra, and they are all used in computer science.

CA: Are they picking up these concepts easily?

Cathy: They pick the new concepts up easily because they all have very good educational backgrounds, with a lot of mathematics from their prior education.

CA: What inspires you about teaching MSD students?

Cathy: I’m impressed by my MSD students’ commitment to their studies and quality of life.  They work hard, have a great sense of community, and work well with each other.  They are dedicated and responsible students who ask relevant and probing questions in class. They are polite and kind to one another and they really want to develop their knowledge.

CA: Have you noticed that the practice of Transcendental Meditation is helping the students?

Cathy: We do a survey at the end of each class, and one question is about their TM practice. Almost all the students say that TM helps them in their studies and that understanding the connection between consciousness and mathematics gives them a deeper appreciation of the knowledge. I meditate with them in class during the whole course, so they get some solid experience of what it’s like to meditate regularly.

In the survey, we  also ask “What was your most significant experience during this course?” The majority of the students say that meditating in the group twice a day made a huge difference. One student said that daily meditation helped him acquire the knowledge to find all possibilities so that any problem can be solved.

In answering another survey question, “What aspect of the course would you keep?” most say they would keep the TM part because they’ve seen so much progress in themselves. That’s pretty good!

CA: Any advice for new MSD students?

Cathy: I would tell them that anyone who comes to this program will enjoy it and gain many benefits. However, it’s a big commitment because the MSD program is very demanding. My advice is, once you are here, take advantage of the consciousness program because it will absolutely help you in your studies.

CA: Any last comments?

Cathy: I know that many of our international students have been through a lot in their home countries but somehow, they were able to get here, and they have a wonderful opportunity to create a better life. It makes me so happy to know they will get great jobs, contribute to society and take good care of their families. It’s a pleasure to teach them.