Mathematics Research Key for Franklin

 

Attending Wayland Baptist University would have been the easy choice for Emily Franklin. After all, both of her parents graduated from the university and her father, Dr. Scott Franklin, teaches in the School of Mathematics and Sciences. Emily grew up in Plainview and has been around Wayland her entire life.

But she didn’t want to take the easy choice.

“I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t just choosing the easy thing, staying in my hometown with those connections,” Franklin said. “I wanted to make sure it was where God was calling me for the next phase of my life.”

Franklin applied at several Christian universities and began touring the schools and going through the recruitment process. But even though the choice seemed too easy, she was always drawn back to Plainview and Wayland.

 

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“Every time I went somewhere it just felt like it wasn’t home, and I just knew I wanted to come back home,” she said. “That’s how I decided to come to Wayland and continue my education here.”

At Wayland, Franklin has been active in student life. She has served as president of the Student Government Association, she is chaplain of the Wayland Choirs and a member of the International Choir. She is a President’s Ambassador, has been active in Baptist Student Ministries and is part of the Rotaract Club, a college offshoot of Rotary International. On Nov. 6, the WBU senior majoring in mathematics and religious education, was crowned Miss Wayland, running a platform of service within the community. For her, the journey was long, but well worth the time.

“Whether I was chosen as Miss Wayland, or if I just got to be part of the process, it was something I wanted to be part of. I wanted to be part of that legacy,” Franklin said. “A lot of people put a lot of work into it. It was so rewarding just to be there with all the other women who were participating and seeing all of their talents. Any one of those girls would have been excellent, but it is super special to get to represent Wayland this way.”

As her reign begins, Franklin will take part in various community activities and possibly talk to elementary school students and encourage them to serve their community. But if the topic of education comes up, don’t be surprised to hear the WBU senior delve into the realm of magic squares.

Granted, the terminology seems more befitting for a childhood fantasy story, but the concept is grounded in mathematical principles and determining how numbers interact with each other.

“I’m really interested in pure math which is less about how we apply these things and more about why these number work the way they do,” Franklin said. “How does this system work together the way that God created it? Magic squares are a cool way to look at that. You just look at this grid of numbers and see how they interact with each other.

“It’s kind of like you’re playing a game of Sudoku, but a little more technical.”

Working with her faculty advisor, Dr. Chris Thornhill, and Levi Kasner, a senior computer science student, Franklin has broken new ground, developing a classification of magic squares that have never been seen before. They are calling them “arithmagic squares.”

“It’s something that no one else has ever done,” Franklin said. “I’m looking at a way to create them and how to come up with formulas for generating them and how to explore all the different avenues that come with that field of research. It’s really exciting because it’s breaking ground on things that have never been looked at before.”

She will admit, however, that people who aren’t mathematicians probably won’t get too excited about the project.

“It sounds really cool, but once you start getting into the nitty gritty, fewer and fewer people think it’s cool,” she said.

While magic squares may never catch on as the next great party game, Franklin is hoping to incorporate what she learns into her other passion – children’s ministry. She currently teaches pre-school music at Calvary Baptist Church in Lubbock, and she uses what she has learned through research to better connect with children in her ministry.

“When I see the way these numbers interact and the way they are very particularly arranged, it reminds me of how God created this whole universe in a systematic way so that things like this work together,” she said. “It’s about having this over-arching theme in my life and recognizing those patterns and being able to translate those patterns to young kids.”

Emily is part of Wayland's Honors Program, which  represents the highest level of academic work available at the undergraduate level. As part of the program, she took a variety of honors courses in her early years at Wayland. Now as an upperclassmen, Emily's research into magic squares is fulfilling the requirements for her Honors Thesis. This program helps to prepare students interested in continuing to graduate school, making them more marketable through proven writing and research expertise and defense and critical thinking skills.

Through all of her research, work and campus involvement, Franklin has been grateful for her time at Wayland and the relationships she has built.

“I had a friend in music and she always said that the professors at Wayland want to see you grow as a student, as a musician and as a Christian,” Franklin said. “I can apply that anywhere on campus. I’ve had many people, students, faculty and staff come alongside me to help me grow as an academic, but also as a follower of Christ.”

Upon graduation, Franklin hopes to continue her education. She has already applied to Texas Tech University graduate school where she hopes she can continue her research into magic squares. She also wants to continue working at her church and using her ministry degrees to benefit others.

 

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