April 18, 2012
CONTACT: K.E. Schwab
SRU math major adds another degree
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – When Rex Edmonds, a Slippery Rock University mathematics major, marches across the stage at the May 12 commencement ceremonies, it will mark a milestone in his education road.
Edmonds, 54, of Slippery Rock has spent his lifetime improving his education. The road is not ending at SRU. He has earned a graduate assistant position in the master’s program at Youngstown State University, and he will begin work at the end of summer in its math program.
“It has been an involved process,” Edmonds said. “The changing economy, downsizing at the companies I worked for and other factors have forced me to continue my education throughout my life. It has been a rewarding, if difficult, experience.”
Edmonds first enrolled at SRU in 2009. He will graduate at 10:30 a.m., May 10, with fellow students in the College of Health, Environment and Science, and believes he will be among the oldest members of the class.
He will receive his bachelor’s of science degree in mathematics with a minor in statistics and computer science.
SRU will present some 1,500 diplomas in two ceremonies in Morrow Field House.
“Being older really has not been a problem,” he said. “It was often enjoyable working with the younger students, some quickly accepted me, and some thought I could be their father. Some felt I did not belong and should just go away.”
He said one of the most enjoyable parts of college life was being able to go to and present at research conferences as a member of SRU’s Math Club. He is also a member of Kappa Mu Epsilon, mathematics honorary
“The math department provided funds so students could travel to conferences in New Orleans and Boston, and I always found it interesting to hear and talk with other math professors and students,” he said.
A 1976 graduate of Karns City High School, Edmonds went on to earn a two-year degree at Penn Tech. “That technical school became part of Pittsburgh Technical Institute, but when I needed my original transcripts, it was hard to track them down,” he said.
Armed with his associate degree in electronics, Edmonds began work and soon found himself involved as a self-taught programmer. Downsizing hit the company 22 years later, and Edmonds was out of a job. His programming skills landed him a position in a Zelienople software company and all was good until downsizing again struck in 2008 as the company changed directions away from software.
Because his first company had offered tuition reimbursement, he had earlier enrolled in electrical engineering courses at Butler County Community College. “When I took my first math course, I knew it was my passion,” he said.
He continued coursework at BC3 graduating in 2002 with an associate degree in mathematics with back-of-the-mind thoughts of someday teaching at the college level, or maybe continuing studies in computer programming work.
“When I finished my associate degree at BC3, I still had a job, so I just keep doing what I had been doing.
“I had a two-year degree in math and I was working and looking for a new job, but I found I was looking for a job one-and-half-months too long. The economy tanked and I was now, again, out of a job. The economy offered few opportunities, so, I started back to school in fall of 2009 at SRU”
“It has been a fun three years” during which he enjoyed tutoring fellow mathematics students, he said.
“I was mostly here for the classes, and I studied at the library. I treated my education as an eight-hour job. Go to classes, then study at the library. I just could not study at home, there were too many distractions: We have cats and they seemed to always be on the wrong side of the door,” he said.
He credits his wife, Joetta, and her job at the TriCounty Workforce Investment Board, for keeping the family afloat financially. His wife will be on hand for the graduation ceremony along with his father, James. from Parker.
“I’m not sure what I will be doing over the summer. Right now the goal is to pass all my classes and graduate,” he said. After completing studies at YSU, Edmonds said he may return to his community college roots to teach, or may elect to go on for his doctorate degree.
As an overview of his college career, Edmonds said, “I think it worked. I don’t know if I feel smarter, but I think so.”
Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania’s premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives. -