Professor Elizabeth Ebrahimzadeh defies her students' expectations.
At first blush they may be tempted to dismiss the math instructor as a bright professor whose field of study is destined to put them to sleep. But that perception fades as soon as she takes charge of the classroom.
She believes one of the greatest challenges in teaching in general, and mathematics in particular, is not to lose them to boredom, not to have them thinking, "This is dry, I'm going to switch it off." Thus she strives to see to it that her students are fully engaged during each class session.
She likens her math classes to a workout at the gym -- a gym for the mind. "I want students to be intellectually tired, to have had a good mental workout when they leave. To be fully involved, engaged 100 percent is tiring," she says.
"My stage experience," Ebrahimzadeh says, "helps me to connect with young men and women who might otherwise assume that the study of mathematics is dull." To the contrary, her thought-provoking classes have resonated with all manner of students during her 26 years at Sacramento State.
Roberto Pomo, director of Sacramento State's Honors Program, considers her "a gifted educator" and marvels at her ability to engage each student.
Ebrahimzadeh's contagious enthusiasm for mathematics and her students has been enhanced by teaching an Honors course since the program's inception five years ago. She particularly enjoys Honors students who are motivated to excel, adding that their sophistication and drive make them a joy to teach.
She cites the reasoning skills her Honors students demonstrated in a written assignment about the federal bailout of the financial institutions in 2009. They researched conservative and liberal sources alike. Their papers predicted the socio/economic position they expected to occupy 10 years from now.
She was raised in England until she was eight. She subsequently lived in Tehran, where she earned her bachelor's degree, before coming to the United States to obtain a doctorate at U.C. Berkeley.
Ebrahimzadeh remains at Sacramento State because of her students, many of whom are working to pay for their education. Her motivated students routinely stipulate that they are getting their money's worth.