Brennan Kastens has always been good at math. “I like it because I think very logically, from step to step,” he says, “and I also like knowing when I’m right or wrong, and so even when I don’t know how I’m gonna get there, I know there is a way to get there.” As a math major with a concentration in secondary education, Brennan is pursuing his love of mathematics and preparing himself to be a high school math teacher. Recently, Brennan was awarded the $10,000 Prospective 7-12 Secondary Teacher Coursework Scholarship by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM).The application itself was rigorous. “I had to write an essay about why I want to become a teacher and what led me to that. I had to lay out all of the coursework I had done and will do for my program. I had to make out a budget of how I would use the money. And then I had to get a couple recommendations, and transcripts and grades.”
Brennan says he wants to be a teacher because he had a good high school experience in large part because he had teachers who made learning enjoyable. In particular, Brennan’s French teacher and baseball coach have had a lasting influence on him, and he sees teaching as an opportunity for him to emulate those role models and influence the next generation of students.
One of the more unique experiences that Brennan has had in his mathematics education is the Templeton course, “Mathematics in the Western Tradition.” All Templeton students must choose to take either this course or the Cosmology course, although some students decide to take both. Brennan explains that in this course “instead of focusing on a specific subject, like linear algebra, we progressed our way through history studying individual mathematicians and what they were known for and how they thought. So we started with Euclid and we worked with the math he would have worked with and in his style, and then we moved to Descartes, and Newton.” When asked how this course affected his understanding of mathematics, he said: “it gave me a new perspective on the process of developing the math that I am studying in my other classes. It made me take a step back and think about why the mathematicians are doing it this way.” Brennan says this perspective has also helped to frame how he thinks about his own work in mathematics.
When Brennan is not busy solving math problems, he is watching movies or practicing his free throws with Eastern’s basketball team. Brennan started playing basketball when he was 7 years old in a city recreational league. He continued to play throughout middle school and high school. But while basketball brought him to Eastern, he has grown up playing a variety of sports including soccer and baseball. And being from New Hampshire, Brennan is also a big fan of watching sports, especially when his favorite New England teams are playing.
Brennan speaks highly of his experience at Eastern and Templeton. Specifically, he has benefited greatly from the friendships he’s made both in and outside of the Honors College and the ways in which having access to a strong Christian community has helped him grow in his own faith. When asked about his favorite Templeton class, Brennan says he is torn between “Justice and The Common Good” and “Western Civilization II: Medieval and Renaissance Europe.” Outside the Honors College, his favorite class is “Number Theory.” And though he loves all of his professors, he is especially fond of the mathematics faculty.
Brennan is known throughout the Eastern community as a good friend on whom you can always rely for a warm smile. We’re proud of his accomplishments thus far and look forward to seeing what is in store for him!