Featured Alum: Jason Sass, Mathematics 1999

My name is Jason Sass and I am a graduate of the class of 1999 with a degree in mathematics.

I recall my experience at CBU. During my undergraduate years at CBU I worked in the Math Center on campus. I have always loved to help others and tutoring math seemed to be a perfect fit. At the Math Center I helped other students wrestle with mathematical ideas and guide them, but never did all of the work for them. Instead I would help them see for themselves why something must be true or help them with a particular computational technique. It was quite fun and enjoyable to see them make progress and experience that ‘now i get it understanding’. It helped me to better understand as well, so this was a good experience for me.

I had initially majored in chemical engineering, but later switched over to math. I just couldn’t give up my passion for mathematical thinking and learning and sharing ideas. I would often stay in Plough Library on campus for hours and hours reading the many books and studying just for fun. Often I would be one of the last students to leave each night when the library closed. I would also hang out in the computer lab and chat with other students. It was always fun to learn new computer programs and write some programs of my own in the computer lab.

I took this curiosity about computers to the next level when I started working as a part time contractor for FedEx. There I provided computer technical support to gain some practical experience, all while still a student at CBU. It was a balancing act to manage both school and work, but quite doable, especially if you are determined and focused. So, I continued working there for about a year until I was offered a full time position at FedEx. I thought FedEx was a good company, so I decided to accept. In 1999 I completed my studies at CBU and was working full time for FedEx.

Initially I worked in the Customer Technology Services department at FedEx for a few years and provided technical support. Thereafter, I began working in the software development area in the Information Technology Division, focusing my energies on mission critical projects in the Retail sector at FedEx. I continued to learn new computer technologies and software development techniques. I believe my background in math has helped me to rapidly learn these new technologies. It was quite an enjoyable and fast paced environment. The environment is quite dynamic and there’s always new business objectives to meet. I’ve found it useful to reason carefully and critically when dealing with conflicting and even contradictory requirements and goals. Mathematical training has helped in this regard. I’ve held various positions throughout the years and currently I am a programmer advisor. In this capacity I work with a team that provides web services solutions for global customers. Specifically, we provide a web services interface for customers integrating with FedEx by providing functionality to ship with FedEx. So, we allow customers to perform business transactions with FedEx over the Internet no matter where they are. I enjoy working with the many folks at FedEx. I’m on my 13th year with FedEx and have received many awards for excellence, including several hall of fame awards and most valuable player award at FedEx.

It was during alumni weekend that I visited the updated CBU campus and toured the new sciences building. I was impressed with the open and bright rooms and whiteboards. I remember when I was a tutor on campus the Math Center was in a room with old wooden floors that creaked wherever you walked. But, now the Math Center is modernized and bright and there’s no more creaking floors. How lucky the current students are today! I saw the offices of my old professors, such as Dr. Becker and Cathy Carter Grilli and the various science classrooms. It’s nice that the math department had ‘moved up’ and is no longer in the basement.

In my spare time I’ve revived my interest in music. I used to play violin in the Memphis Youth Symphony many years ago and the piano. Now, I currently play my piano just for fun whether it’s Mozart or the London Symphony in D Major by Haydn or a modern rock song. In addition I like to tutor math and have done so for some time now. I always like to learn new things and I believe my CBU education has helped to encourage me to never stop learning.