Erica Hotsinpiller finds math in many unexpected places—art, music, poetry, nature and even crocheting, her favorite hobby, just to name a few.
“I see math wherever I go and feel that the world is governed by its principles, sometimes invisibly and other times obviously,” she said. “In a world of uncertainty, math provides order among the chaos. I have always taken comfort in knowing that there is a right answer—I don’t favor things that are subjective. I find a calmness in the notion that something can be proven, and math is one of the few areas in which that happens.”
As an undergraduate student with an undecided major, Hotsinpiller first attended a community college for a year to explore different subject areas.
“I was fortunate enough to have some really amazing professors who cared about me as a person,” she said. “I performed the best in my math courses, so I decided move on to a four-year college to pursue a degree in math.”
After graduating with her bachelor’s degree in Mathematics, Hotsinpiller still wasn’t sure of her career path, so she entered a graduate program to continue studying math. While there, she was lucky to serve as a graduate assistant and teach her own section of a math course. This inspired her to consider teaching as a career.
“Since I had so many professors who made a positive impact on my life, I chose to teach math in an effort to pay it forward and hopefully make a positive impact on the lives of my students,” she said. “I always joked to my friends that I wanted to become a professional student, so being a teacher is the next best thing!”
Armed with her master’s degree, Hotsinpiller began teaching full time at a different community college before coming to College of DuPage, where she always wanted to be because of its reputation for providing a high-quality education and having amazing staff, faculty and facilities. She has many goals for her students beyond mastering the course objectives.
“I want students to see the value in learning math and how math can be used in their own lives,” she said. “Being successful in a math course involves more than just mastering the content. It allows students to work on patience, persistence, organization, communication and self-discipline. Overall, I aim for my students to become critical thinkers, informed consumers and responsible citizens.”
Her greatest source of inspiration comes from her daughter.
“She is on the autism spectrum and lives in a world that isn’t designed for her,” Hotsinpiller said. “She faces incredible struggles every day, yet she never gives up. I am in awe of her courage and perseverance. I always thought that I would have to teach my daughter about the world, but it turns out that I have to teach the world about my daughter. She has taught me to never take anything for granted, to celebrate the small stuff and to be grateful for what I have every day.”