May 8, 2013


VSU's Joseph Cauley Prepares for Doctoral Program, Assistantship

VALDOSTA – For Joseph Cauley, making the most of the undergraduate experience requires more than just earning and maintaining a high grade point average. Working for the university, tutoring and scholarly research have shaped the Valdosta State University Spring 2013 graduate professionally. They have also helped him land a full ride to University of Oklahoma where he will complete his four-year doctoral program in mathematics.

A Douglas native, Cauley’s journey in higher education includes several twists and turns.

“I graduated from Coffee High School in 2004 and then went to South Georgia College with no idea what I wanted to do career wise,” said Cauley. “I left college after a year and moved to Kansas. During my time there I just worked. I eventually realized how expensive it was to live just working without a degree. I decided that I wanted to go back to college and then eventually teach math.”

Cauley said that his decision to pursue a career in math education was influenced by his 10th grade math teacher, Sue Hutchinson.

“Before taking her class, all of my previous teachers had frowned on the fact that I never took notes in class,” said Cauley. “She was the first, however, to really embrace that all students are unique and learn in unique ways.”

Cauley returned to Georgia in August 2011 as a student at Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech). He participated in the school’s cooperative education program, which allowed him to alternate between taking classes one semester and working or interning the next semester. After his first semester at Georgia Tech, he completed an engineering internship at PCC Airfoils, LLC, an airplane parts manufacturer in Douglas. There he compiled spreadsheets and designed various parts on the computer.

“I chose not to return to Georgia Tech due to the high tuition costs, so I transferred to Valdosta State University,” Cauley said.

For a year, he tutored students in math at South Georgia College while taking classes at VSU. He then became a desktop services technician with VSU’s Division of Information Technology. Because of his work with IT, he was recently nominated for Student Employee of the Year.

Cauley said that one of the highlights of his time at VSU has been completing his first research project, which assessed the value of a voter in the United States. Earlier this year, Cauley did a study titled, “Determining the Value of a Vote in the United States Under the Electoral College Voting System Using Linear Programming.” Within the study he determined the percentage of registered voters required to win a majority vote with the electoral college during a presidential election through a binary integer programming problem.

“I really enjoyed completing this project,” said Cauley. “I got the opportunity to present it at this year’s Georgia Academy of Science annual meeting and the VSU undergraduate symposium. It definitely gave me an idea of what to expect going into the doctoral program. My faculty advisor, Dr. Jin Wang, was very helpful in the completion of the project.”

After two years at VSU, Cauley has fulfilled the requirements for his Bachelor of Science in Applied Mathematics with a 3.9 grade point average. He has been offered a teacher’s assistantship, which covers his full tuition at Oklahoma State University as he completes the math doctoral program.

“I officially begin my assistantship on Aug. 1,” said Cauley. “I have been told that I will start out grading papers while I complete a course on teaching college math. After that I will be able to teach some courses.”

Cauley would ultimately like to teach college math and become the head of a math department at a university.

“I would like to teach somewhere in the northern United States,” he said. “However, I am open and look forward to going anywhere with opportunities.”