More Than a Math Problem

Posted by Paula Paine on April 1, 2014 in "Your OU" Since she was in high school, Ottawa University junior Mallory Kleoppel had an interest in and skillset for math. Beyond her natural talent, she was also attracted to math because of the challenges that the discipline constantly handed her - and she is not one to back down from a challenge.
The more math courses Kleoppel took during high school, the more her interest developed into a passion for the subject, due in large part to her Odessa (MO) High School math teacher, Melissa Livengood. “I wanted to be like my teacher,” said Kleoppel. “Everyone liked her and wanted to take her classes. I felt like I was good at helping people, so I wanted to be a math teacher, too.” 
In addition to the many classes she took from Livengood, Kleoppel and her teacher developed a close relationship through the Odessa High School math relay team on which Kleoppel competed and which Livengood sponsored.
“I saw a lot of myself in Ms. Livengood, and she was the three things I want to be in life: lively, relatable and passionate about what she did. She made math fun,” said Mallory.
And so, when Kleoppel enrolled in Ottawa University, her intentions were to become a math teacher just like her mentor. After her first education classes, however, she realized that education might not be her true calling. She knew she wanted something that would test her intelligence daily and that she could use in a practical way. Now as a math major, she has just that, and she enjoys being challenged every day when she walks into the classroom.
Being so gifted in math, Kleoppel was not prepared for the level of difficulty in her college math courses. “It was a lot harder for me because I never struggled with math before,” she said. “The material is harder and more in depth. Dr. Jeff McCreight may be the most challenging professor I’ve ever encountered, but he wants us to know our material and to be able to succeed in the real world, not just memorize problems. Plus, he is constantly willing to help any student that is willing to work hard.”
Through the obstacles and challenges she has encountered in math, Kleoppel is learning how to deal with life challenges, as well. “My college experience has taught me that things in life won’t always come easy. Sometimes you get knocked down and you have to muster up the strength to get back up,” said Kleoppel. “I’m glad I’m being challenged so that in life when I’m challenged I will know how to handle it. I wouldn’t change my major, ever.”
Beyond the classroom, Kleoppel is as active at Ottawa University as she was at Odessa High, where she participated in varsity golf, DECA, FBLA, FCA, Spanish Club, Blood Club, Quiz Bowl, NHS, Band, Winter Drum Line, and STUCO, as well as the math relays. At OU, where she is a presidential scholar, Kleoppel also plays varsity golf, is the DECA vice president, the Math Club Treasurer, a member of Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and a student ambassador.
“I thoroughly enjoyed the fact that the Ottawa golf coaches pursued me,” she admits. “Coach Wendell Smith has been one of my favorite golf coaches. He not only cares about success on the golf course, but also success in the classroom and in one’s personal life. He always reminds us that we are student athletes, not athlete students. He uplifts us in faith and words of wisdom, and is a high quality individual.” Last season, Kleoppel was part of the team that had the four lowest team scores in program history for a single tournament. 
As part of DECA, Kleoppel traveled to New York City last year to participate in two limited scope business case studies. “I totally loved the trip,” she said. “We learned about the financial district of New York City, took a tour on Wall Street, did the case studies, took a tour of Yankee Stadium where we learned about sports marketing, and experienced how business functions in one of the largest cities in the world.”
When the time comes to put all she has learned at OU to use in a career, Kleoppel has many options, from becoming an actuary to going into data or computer science, investments, business, or research. Specifically, she is interested in working for the United States Department of Defense in some capacity that allows her to interact with people and make an impact on them and her country.
“Ultimately, I will go into whatever line of work that God leads me to, whether it involves mathematics or not,” said Kleoppel.