PROFile: Clarity in math

Mladen Despic, instructor, mathematics and statistics department, U of W

(Supplied photo)

It was roughly 27 years ago that Mladen Despic – a mathematics and statistics instructor for the University of Winnipeg (U of W) – first began teaching on campus.

However, Despic’s time as a faculty member was interspersed throughout the years, as he would leave to pursue other career ventures.

“There was a gap (for) about 20 years, I think,” Despic says, “when I ended up working in (the) industry.”

While away from the U of W, Despic ran his own business, working with computers as a freelancer. But after a lull in his occupational activities, he decided to return to the classroom.

“I felt almost pulled to teach again,” he says. “I always was interested in teaching. I enjoy teaching.”

Specifically, he likes breaking down the course material in ways his students can effectively understand. Despic says a common barrier that stops students from appreciating mathematics is the confusion that drains their motivation to try. As a result, he enjoys clarifying mathematics as much as possible.

Plus, he’s been able to connect with friends and colleagues in the mathematics and statistics department who value his work. In return, Despic has a great appreciation for their talents and abilities.

While Despic is open to freelancing once again, he finds that, as he grows older, his love of teaching increases. Careerwise, he’s happy where he’s at.

“I think I can add value to clarity in math,” he says. “I like to be helpful.”

What is something you’ve learned from your students?

“Listening. I’m a better listener thanks to my students.”

What’s the best thing about your work?

“I enjoy the work, and I enjoy the people I work with.”

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

“To experience love all the time.”

Published in Volume 76, Number 6 of The Uniter (October 21, 2021)

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