Photo courtesy of Tess Schilke '21
Photo courtesy of Tess Schilke '21
Author: Megan Fisher
Date: October 9, 2017
Categories: Academics|Mathematics|Writing

Houghton College writing major Anna Schilke '19 was recently given honorable mention in the Association for Women in Mathematics essay contest.

The contest, co-sponsored by the Association for Women in Mathematics and the nonprofit organization Math for America, focused on stories about female mathematicians and statisticians currently working in the academic, industrial, or government fields. When Schilke found the scholarship application for this essay contest, she knew the perfect interview candidate: Dr. Rebekah Yates, associate professor and chair of mathematics at Houghton.

In her essay titled “The Art of Math: An Image Problem,” Schilke described “a delightful evening in [Yates’] house listening to her talk about her profession.” Here she learned about the rarely exhibited, artistic side of mathematics. “Math is primarily about creativity,” remarks Yates in the essay, with mathematicians able to “invent from scratch” and find innovative solutions to problems.

The interaction between professor and student allowed Schilke to understand and appreciate mathematics in a new light, showing her it doesn’t have to be a rule-based profession, but rather one where a person is free to experiment and use artistic abilities.

"As a humanities-minded person, I went looking for an article,” said Schilke. “Instead I found a whole new perspective, one which informs my understanding of writing itself. The essay ended up being a mere byproduct."

An avid writer and busy student, Schilke continuously seeks writing scholarship opportunities each month in order to improve her writing abilities. This particular contest allowed her to use her liberal arts training to learn about a new discipline and share another side of mathematics through her beloved writing craft.

Learn more about Schilke’s essay at