In high school, I was good at mathematics and liked it very much. I am not sure which came first, being good at it or liking it, but it hardly mattered as each reinforced the other. I chose Mathematics as my major at the University of Evansville, with the idea that I would become a high school teacher; I chose Physics as a complementary minor.
The Mathematics-Physics pairing put me in the company of a small intimate cohort of classmates who were variously studying mathematics, physics, and engineering. We took the same sequence of courses, struggled with the same problem sets, participated in the same campus clubs, and met for coffee and lunch in the Union. My friends were all smart, and we challenged one another in the most supportive ways.
As a resident of the campus dormitories, the members of the UE faculty became the primary adults in my life. The assigned readings from my literature classes are titles I remember to this day; my philosophy professors opened my eyes to whole new ways of seeing; the foreign language faculty encouraged me despite my struggling performance in French classes.
While I remember many of these faculty members with great fondness, it was the mathematics department that was my real home. Without exception, the faculty were nurturing, challenging, and patient. Each professor in their way showed me how to teach, how to learn, and how to explore; each became a model to be considered.
There is a good measure of luck in all that we do, more than we would like to admit. But for my part, choosing UE was one of the best decisions I ever made.