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UST Grad Mathematician Calculates Perfect Speech

By Bridget Hardy, University of St. Thomas
May 2nd, 2013
University of St. Thomas (stthom.edu)

To get the golden ratio, mathematicians take a line and divide it into two segments with the property that when the longer part is divided by the smaller part, it is equal to the whole length divided by the longer part. If you take the length of a college career, divide it by a one small life-changing moment, which is also equal to the whole four-year experience, you get a divine sequence of events. Confused? Brittany Garza is not.

Garza, a senior math major, was selected to be the 2013 Commencement Student Speaker. She will present her speech, "Level Up as Leaders of Faith and Character," to 350 undergraduates and 793 graduate students on May 18 at Reliant Arena. Garza looks forward to the opportunity to share her collegiate reflections.

"It feels surreal," Garza said. "It will be a privilege to tell them the thoughts I've had on my heart during my four years at St. Thomas. We've been very blessed, and 'leveling up' means giving back to the world and touching other people's lives as leaders of faith and character, which is our mission."

Nerves are not an issue for Garza because of professors who helped her refine the speech. Dr. Livia Bornigia, assistant professor of communication, helped with her delivery, and the Rev. Anthony Giampietro, CSB, associate professor and chair philosophy, and Sister Mary Roberta Connors, FSE, pastoral care coordinator of Campus Ministry, helped her get to the heart of her message.

"The theme of my speech is about truth," Garza said. "My time at St. Thomas helped me embrace truth. Even when we feel hopeless, if we have faith and we follow truth, we end up where we're supposed to be."

Five Minutes of Conversation Equals Four Years of Success

Garza met Father Giampietro as a senior in high school when he was visiting her home parish at St. Philip of Jesus Catholic Church in Houston, Texas. Garza's dad encouraged her to ask Father Giampietro about a conflict of faith and science that she was having trouble reconciling. Father Giampietro cleared up her confusion, and encouraged her to visit St. Thomas. Inspired by their chat, she obliged and later she and her younger sister Brienna, now a freshman at UST, became Celts.

Coming full circle and guided by Father Giampietro, Garza gave a mathematician's perspective during her Honors Program presentation "Person: The Endangered Species" at the 2013 Research Symposium.

"Brittany has the background, drive and discipline to excel in life," Father Giampietro said. "She has a wonderful disposition and is always ready to help.  She combines a deep and joyful faith with a great capacity to relate to people who are very different from her."

Of all her collegiate achievements, and it's a long list, Garza is most proud of the Society of Macrina, a group she founded with her friend Chloe Jester to unite and empower women on campus.

"The Society of Macrina is really near and dear to my heart," Garza said. "This is what Chloe and I wanted to leave behind because it is really trying to help the community. By helping the woman, you help the man."

Garza said St. Thomas helped her tie together logic, faith and problem solving. She plans to finish her prerequisite courses for medical school in the coming year and to become either a bilingual doctor or a physician's assistant.

Although Garza's time at UST is not as quantifiable as a golden ratio, it seems pretty evident that this was a divine sequence of events.

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