Carlos Lantigua Bari ’25 majors in advanced mathematics for elementary education. Growing up in Springfield, he graduated from the Springfield High School of Science and Technology before enrolling in the Urban Education’s Summer Bridge Program. As a summer bridge student, Bari spent his first two classes here online due to the pandemic. Initially, he was drawn to Westfield State due to its smaller, more intimate size. “You get to know the people around you better,” he said. “I knew I wanted to stay close to home.”
Now, Bari plans to pursue a career as a math teacher for children in middle schools, though he’s admittedly “torn” between his initial major, secondary education for math, and his current major in advanced mathematics for elementary education.
For guidance, Bari highlights two faculty members from the math department who have been particularly influential to him: Professor Christine Von Renesse and Associate Professor Volker Ecke. Bari praised Renesse’s innovation in the classroom and her ability to evaluate her students in creative, real-world methods, such as allowing students to substitute recorded videos of themselves simulating themselves as teachers for written essays. “I love the way she takes a different approach,” he said. “With the videos, have them to look back on and see how far you’ve come. You can also reference that material later on. I personally like it.”
Bari highly endorsed the various clubs on campus as well, stating that he’s participated in several of them since his first year at the University. Currently, Bari is in the Urban Education Program and spends most of his time either in the Honors Hall or around the math department. Besides school, Bari spends most of his time fluctuating between his three part-time jobs. He currently works at the town’s YMCA building, the Boys & Girls Club, and in Westfield schools as a substitute teacher, as he was referred by Renesse.
“The professors are supportive of my schedule,” Bari said about it. “Some of them recommend I make things lighter for myself, because if I’m too busy, it can affect my academic life. I’ve improved on managing things, though. I write things down, as it keeps it all organized. I also use a reminder app on my phone a lot.”
As with many others, Bari’s favorite part of the University is the community he’s cultivated for himself along the way. Through the Urban Education Program and other various clubs and programs, Bari recounted making friends by meshing these different groups together and stating that he’s met friends who were originally the “friends with my friends”, until his own group changed.
“I found a group of people that, despite my business on campus and having to run back and forth between work and home, they’re always there,” he added. “It’s something I feel everyone should try and find while they’re at Westfield State.”