In the few years since Loyola Marymount University alumna Lisa Taylor ’11 began teaching physics in 2012, she’s inspired more than a half-dozen students to attend her alma mater.
Most major in science, and three joining the freshman class this fall have elected to major in physics after falling in love with the discipline as students in Taylor’s Advanced Placement Physics classes at Huntington Beach High School.
“I encourage them to go into math and science – to really push themselves,” Taylor says. “My students are so much more intelligent than they believe themselves to be. My goal is to get them to realize it.” (Read this 2013 profile to see how Taylor inspires her students.)
All three starting at the Frank R. Seaver College of Science and Engineering later this month– Daniel Pascoe, Sara Karapetian, and Skye Wagoner – credit Taylor’s smarts and enthusiasm for igniting their passion for physics and her encouragement for helping them choose LMU.
The three 18-year-olds were drawn to LMU by the intimacy promised by the campus’ size, the chance to be part of a close-knit group of peers in the small class of freshman physics majors, and the high teacher-to-student ratio.
“I heard about that Lion pride from Miss Taylor,” says Karapetian. “She’s always talking about how much fun she had when she was studying physics at LMU and about how the students got really close with each other and with their teachers.”
From a family of educators, Pascoe is aiming to follow in Taylor’s footsteps by teaching high school physics after LMU. He got a jump on that goal during high school by working as a teacher’s aide and tutoring students in the first-year AP Physics class. He also taught the lessons three or four times when Taylor was absent.
Pascoe had thought he’d teach math, but once he saw how mathematics applied in physics and experienced Taylor’s teaching, he was sold.
For Karapetian, majoring in physics opens up a lot of future directions, such as medical school or bioengineering. But it was the annual field trip to SpaceX with Taylor that really excited her about the possibilities of physics.
Karapetian, who confesses to a longtime love of all things space, says working there would be a dream job. “To see the energy there, the young people, the innovations, it was so cool.”
Wagoner, too, was awed by the visit to SpaceX. “If I were able to apply my passion there that would be just awesome. But they seem to be missing a few girls there.”
It’s an observation supported by the numbers. According to the American Institute of Physics, only 20% of physics degrees in 2013 were awarded to women. And Wagoner says she wants to “do my part” in rectifying that gender imbalance.
“Miss Taylor inspired a lot of kids to go into science and engineering,” says Wagoner. “We [three] are little microcosms of the effect she had on a lot of kids in the school,” adding: “I’m super excited to become a Lion. I’m a Leo myself – an August baby – so it was meant to be.”