STEM CONNECT: Young exploring new avenues at Nebraska

Third-year UNL student Cleve Young is majoring in mathematics and minoring in statistics. Young transferred to Nebraska from Wayne State College in 2020. PHOTO BY GRACE KOVAR, senior, journalism

By Tori Pedersen, senior, agricultural leadership, education and communication

Before joining the STEM CONNECT program, Cleve Young encountered few opportunities to explore programming or research.

Now, as a third-year student majoring in mathematics and minoring in statistics, Young said the support offered by faculty at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln made those experiences an easy transition.

Young, who spent his first year at Wayne State College and transferred to UNL in the Summer of 2020 as a sophomore, commutes an hour and 15 minutes to campus each day and is the father of a 7-year-old. As an enrolled member of a Native tribe, Young said he is “extremely proud of my heritage and all that comes with it.”

“I decided to transfer to UNL after they expanded the financial support provided through FAFSA,” Young said. “I am proud to be a part of a university offering that support.”

Throughout his time in the department and STEM CONNECT program, Young has began assisting with research. His current research is with Yvonne Lai, developing a learning progression for students in underserved communities to create more accessibility to STEM.

“The research is looking to measure students’ abilities and help communities that typically don’t have many STEM opportunities so we are able to reach these students,” Young said.

Young said he finds excitement in solving problems and exploring the foundational and conceptual sides of mathematics. He was recruited to STEM CONNECT by Jim Lewis, Aaron Douglas Professor of Mathematics and principal investigator of this National Science Foundation grant.

Thrilled at the opportunity to join a program that offered such strong support to students, Young also shared his commitment toward helping other students learn and experience math. Young works as an a teaching assistant and learning assistant for the mathematics department.

Young’s favorite STEM course, Modern Algebra, goes beyond applying formulas to a problem, he said, and instead challenges students to really understand why math works the way that it does.

“Older students always told me that you haven’t done real math until you’ve done modern algebra,” he said.

As far as his future goals, the Decatur, Nebraska, native said he wants to keep his eyes open for as many opportunities as possible until he finds what strikes him as the “right fit.” His passion lies in exploring math, and until he finds one area he wants to hone in on, he wants to explore it all.

“There’s so many options,” he said, “I could go into finance, actuarial science, math education. I’m always learning of new opportunities.”