By Liam Scanlon
Most students at Mount Wachusett Community College may know Aliza Miller as their math professor. She teaches a wide range of levels of math classes. She is a Project ACCCESS (Advancing Community College Careers: Education, Scholarship, and Services) Fellow with the American Mathematical Association of Two-Year Colleges (AMATYC). She posts a Math Problem of the Week on the whiteboard outside her office.
Aside from her work with the math department at The Mount, she is also the Chair of Interdisciplinary Studies at The Mount, has traveled all around the world, and is an artist. Miller has lived in New York, Kaohsiung (in Taiwan), Montreal, Vermont, and here in Massachusetts.
Miller taught English in Kaohsiung through HESS International Educational Group. She came into the country without knowing how to speak Chinese. It was a ‘huge culture shock’ she recalls.
She had to learn to drive a 90cc scooter aggressively through crowded streets. She eventually had to learn some traditional Chinese characters. There were vastly different landscapes within 50 miles of each other. Karaoke was a big deal. After a week of training, she was teaching.
She taught students from the kindergarten level to junior high level. She has kept in touch with some of her former students through social media. One of her students, whose English name is Vivian, is now an aspiring dancer living in London.
What she misses most from Taiwan is the food. It isn’t the karaoke or having to drive aggressively on a 90cc scooter in crowded streets, but the ‘fresh,’ ‘legit,’ food available at almost any hour. She could get fresh food at a night market on her way home from teaching late night classes.
Miller has decorated her current home with artwork featuring origami and geometry. She has a flock of origami cranes following the path of a huge Pythagorean Spiral on one of her walls and a flock traveling along a sine curve on another. She does Bonsai Origami. Her office also has some origami artwork.
Like most professors here at the Mount, Miller is more than what meets the eye in her classes.