University of the Ozarks student Samantha Hutto has found an illuminating harmony in the unlikely double majors of history and mathematics.
The junior from Arlington, Texas, enrolled at Ozarks planning to major in mathematics, but it didn’t take long for her to realize that she also had a passion for history.
“I always liked history and after one class with [history professor] Dr. Steve Oatis I knew I had to get a double major,” Hutto said. “I just became fascinated with how history shapes us and how it all ties together. When people hear that I’m a history and mathematics major, they think it’s a pretty strange combination.
“My mathematics friends can’t believe I like to write papers and my history major friends can’t believe I love to solve math problems. But for me, it just seems natural.”
Hutto recently won an outstanding presentation award at the Arkansas Regional Conference for the Phi Alpha Theta National Honor Society in History. Her conference paper, titled, “Mathematics in Enlightenment Thought,” examined the flourishing of mathematics in the 17th and 18th centuries.
“I believe the critical-thinking and problem-solving skills that I use in mathematics allows me to have a different approach to understanding history and looking at historical concepts,” Hutto said. “Solving mathematical problems is like a puzzle and it’s a very structured discipline. History, in a lot of ways, is like piecing together a puzzle as well. But they are also very different and they push and challenge me to grow in different ways, and I like that as well.”
Hutto has already been thinking of ways to combined her love of the two disciplines in a career.
“I would love to work in a museum or at a historical site or something that relates to the history of mathematics,” she said. “That would be the dream job for me.”
Diagnosed with dyslexia and attention deficit disorder, Hutto has utilized the services of the university’s Jones learning Center (JLC) to help her succeed in the classroom. She has made the academic honor roll in each of her first five semesters at Ozarks.
“I’ve always loved learning, but because of the JLC I’m happier now than I’ve ever been,” she said. “The JLC is a great support system and it has given me the structure and support I definitely needed. That support and assistance has freed me up to enjoy the process of learning more than I ever thought I could.”
Hutto said she has not only found the freedom to learn, but has also blossomed outside the classroom in ways she never thought possible. She serves as a mathematics tutor in the JLC and is a member of Phi Alpha Theta and the Presbyterian Campus Ministries.
“Ozarks has helped me grow so much as a person,” she said. “I’ve found myself engaged in so many new ideas and opportunities and open to more ways of thinking. Ozarks has really helped me think about who I am as a person and how I fit in the community and also in the world.”