November 20 Day 257: Heart-work

Yesterday was proclaimed a day of hope because of rainbow magic. And that meteorological phenomena of reflection, refraction, and dispersion came through for me. Let me explain.

How can you not find hope in your heart when you learn about

  • the expansion of two families. The birth of a sweet girl yesterday and a baby boy a few days earlier. Despite all the doom and gloom of our pandemic existence, “life finds a way.” (Attributed to the mathematician Ian Malcolm in Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park and made memorable by Jeff Goldblum in Steven Spielberg’s film version.)
  • the success of treatments for two friends dealing with breast cancer. Huge sigh of relief for now.
  • the excellent work done by volunteers on an important task force (even if the meeting is dark and early.)
  • another exceptional essay by Francis Su. This one appears in the December 2020 AMS Notices and calls for mathematicians to change practices in graduate education that drive students away from our discipline.

Then today, while co-facilitating a workshop for UW Tacoma mathematicians (both faculty and students) about making mathematics more inclusive, the term “heart-work” resonated with me.

Heart-work: Work that has been prompted by the heart, or executed with all one’s heart.

From the Century Dictionary

I think I will add that heart-work is also hard work—otherwise it would not require such a personal commitment. Making mathematics inclusive and welcoming is heart-work. It is not and cannot be just one person’s job. A graduate advisor cannot welcome and counsel all students to degree completion. Francis Su, despite his Herculean efforts, cannot humanize the profession by himself. It is all of our jobs. So let’s get busy.

Published by Jenny Quinn

Mathematician. Mother. Wife. Leader. I am a professor of mathematics at the University of Washington Tacoma. Mother of Anson and Zachary. Wife to Mark. President of the Mathematical Association of America.

One thought on “November 20 Day 257: Heart-work

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