Alumni interview: Andrea Hawkins

Andrea Hawkins graduated in 2005 with a bachelor's degree in mathematics. 

When did you decide to come to Walla Walla University?

I had actually decided way back in seventh grade. I grew up in Colorado and had decided I wanted to go to college on the West Coast and thought Walla Walla sounded good. After visiting Walla Walla a few times for basketball tournaments and a senior visit, I was convinced.

How did you decide to be a math major?

I started college as a biology/pre-med major. However, throughout high school I had always enjoyed math so I decided I would at least finish the Calc sequence. After taking Calc I my second quarter at Walla Walla, I realized I enjoyed my math class far more than my biology class! Also, I had the unique opportunity of being the secretary for the math department my first year and so was constantly exposed to the math professors. (It was a good thing!) With just a little bit of nudging from Dr. Wiggins, I decided I would study math.

What was your favorite part of the math department?

This is a tough one... Naturally, the professors were great! The size of the department was also good. By the time you got to the upper division courses, the class size was five or less and the people in your class were all your friends!

What have you done since leaving WWU?

I've been attending a graduate program at the University of Texas in Austin in Computational and Applied Mathematics, with an emphasis in biomedical engineering. The program I am in is unique in that it is interdisciplinary and requires students to be strong in math and computational science. My research involves using partial differential equations to model tumor growth. In particular, I am working on inverse analysis techniques to make such models patient-specific by calibrating certain parameters in the model. The hope is that these techniques will one day be useful in treatment planning for patients who are diagnosed with cancer. I have gotten my masters here and am currently a Ph.D. candidate.

Any final interesting tidbits that you want to share?

Well, I recently just engaged to another Walla Walla alumnus, Justin Daarud, a 2007 engineering graduate.

We are always eager to hear from alums of the Walla Walla University Mathematics program. To drop us a line, please email