Pascale Ngo '09
B.A. Mathematics, Mathematics Education
Why did you choose Math as a major at Hofstra?
I chose to major in math because I knew that I wanted to become a math teacher. The program here fit me perfectly. I liked the fact that I could do both math and education as an undergrad. The math department here is great! The professors are accessible and willing to help you. Their offices are right next to rooms in which I could work in between class time. At first, I was hesitant in asking my professors questions, but they were so helpful that I couldn’t keep myself from seeking their guidance.
How did you overcome being nervous to ask questions?
As a student, I learned that professors are more than willing to help you -you just need to take the initiative of asking. And that’s what I did. As a teacher, I am more than willing to help students understand a concept if they came and ask. I tutored in the Math Department Tutoring Lab and I always encourage students to ask questions and let me know if they did not understand a concept. The worst thing for a student to do is to give up.
Tell us about your involvement in InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Schools for Schools, Hofstra Crew and Student Leadership and Activities.
My involvement at Hofstra was a blessing and shaped me in many ways. I joined Hofstra Crew freshmen year because of the “No experience required!” signs. Rowing in a boat with other girls taught me about teamwork and that the only person who cuts you is yourself. I think the same goes for life in general and especially at school. You only fail at doing something when you give up. I know it is easier said than done, but that is what kept me going as a math major, I did not give up.
InterVarsity Christian Fellowship is an organization that I am proud to have been part of. I was blessed to have seen it grow from a small group to a large family. I was given the opportunity to be part of the leadership team that helped it be present for the students who are part of it today. And if I were to go back to Hofstra, I would look forward to seeing the old members as well as the new ones.
My involvement with Schools for Schools started with a screening of the documentary “Invisible Children: the rough cut” by Student Leadership and Activities. Along with several students, we started a Schools for Schools chapter at Hofstra in order to raise money for the non-profit Invisible Children organization.
Working with Student Leadership and Activities has pushed me to step out of my comfort zone and lead others. I was blessed to have worked with the directors there, including Kimberly Rhyan and many others. For two summers in a row, I was a student coordinator for Summerfest and Welcome Week, programs that plan events for students. Through this, I developed my communication skills and met many other students. One of the best experiences with Student Leadership and Activities was the Spring Break Alternative Trip in 2008 when the team and I volunteered in cross cultural settings for a week in Philadelphia.
Tell us about your experience teaching in France.
The Fulbright Scholarship was the opportunity to go to France and to teach English, two aspects that have been a huge part of my life. I have childhood memories in France as well as memories of learning English as a second language at a young age. During my senior year, I applied to the Fulbright Scholarship with the guidance of professors at the University, including Professor Donahue whom I met during my freshmen year and Professor Denis Jean, one of my French professors. After six longs months of anticipation, I received an email saying that I did not get the Fulbright Scholarship but that the Embassy of France was offering me a teaching assistantship in France.
What has your experience in France taught you?
Living at Hofstra for four years has taught me many things about being on my own and being away from my family in California. And with these four years in my pocket, I have grown independent and open to what living by yourself in another country is like. My experience in France is reaffirming what I learned at Hofstra. In life, there is no manual to follow, you reap the consequences of your actions. You have to be pro-active about your decisions. People are not going to hold your hand nor tell you you need to do this and this.
What do you plan to do next with your Hofstra degree?
Although I am in France doing something unrelated to math, I am still doing something that is important to me. I am helping students build confidence, not in math, but in their English speaking skills. As a teacher, I believe that my job is not only to teach, but to help students realize that they are capable of succeeding no matter what the school subject is. After my assistantship, I hope to go back to teaching math.
What or who has inspired you throughout your Hofstra journey and now France?
I am constantly inspired by my mother who has taught me to work hard. She trusted me when I went to New York for my studies and now she trusts me during my stay in France. As her daughter, I don’t want to disappoint her.