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Problem-Solving Her Future

Math is Music to Her Ears

By Amanda Cairo

Growing up in Mukilteo, Washington, and travelling across the state to the University of Idaho’s Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival, Courtney Creech knew she was good at music. She never thought much about math until her high-school calculus class where it clicked, thanks to her dedicated teacher.

Three years after that class finished, Creech has secured a degree in computational mathematics and a job doing what she loves, problem solving at Fast Enterprise LLC as an implementation consultant providing software and information technology consulting services for government agencies.

“I love figuring out the problems and finding the best way to solve them,” says Creech. “All my high school friends said I wasn’t good at math, but after I took my first college calculus class, I never looked back.”

Creech originally chose U of I because of her involvement as a high school student with the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival — which she continued to be involved in after she switched majors at the university -- and her experience at Vandal Friday.

“I really like the close interaction between students and teachers at the university,” says Creech. “I’ve enjoyed being a part of the campus community, from Vandal Friday on.”

As Creech began her journey as a music educator, she thought back to her high-school calculus class and the teacher who inspired her to work toward being an educator. She challenged herself and switched to math education. As she went deeper into her coursework, it was the problem-solving aspect that really drove her interest.

With a computational math degree, she will be able to solve problems at her new job and help companies she works with to learn what they need to know. Eventually, she hopes to be a project manager.

“It’s a really great opportunity to do the problem solving and be an educator as I help companies fulfill their needs,” says Creech. “I still feel like I’m a teacher, but in a different role.”

Creech attended the fall 2013 career fair at the university. It was great experience for her, resulting in two job offers.

“I just walked up to every company who wanted a math or engineering major for information,” says Creech. “Don’t be afraid to ask. I went in with no expectations of what I wanted to do and trusted my gut.”

She also attended university-sponsored workshops before the event and had her resume checked before she brought it to the fair.

And while she completed her degree in three years, Creech planned on taking four years. Last year though, she looked ahead and realized she could do it in three. She also attended two summer school sessions and usually took 20 credits per semester.

“My adviser was really helpful in changing class and majors, and planning ahead,” says Creech. “He was really confident in my abilities and consistently took his time to work with me.”

Despite her focus on mathematics, Creech continued to play in the wind ensemble all three years, was in the jazz band and clarinet choir, took private lessons, volunteered for the jazz festival, and was a member of Sigma Alpha Iota International Music Fraternity as an executive board member. Creech has experience in clarinet, tenor sax, bass clarinet and flute. She would eventually like to teach private lessons and be certified in instrument repair.

In addition to her classwork and activities on campus, Creech was an active volunteer for United Way. Her experiences with United Way of Snohomish County gave her many of the skills she utilizes to succeed in college.

“I really enjoyed being able to have an outlet to be a volunteer in my community,” says Creech.

She’s now ready to start a new career from the foundation of her education and find opportunities to become involved in her new community through volunteer and musical activities.


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Web: Department of Mathematics