Denise Bradford

Hometown: Atlanta, Ga.
Major: Pursuing a master's degree in applied statistics

Her inspirational Purdue woman: Zenephia Evans, director of multicultural science programs in the College of Science.

A "mother figure": Bradford describes Evans, who has worked with probably hundreds of students through the years, as much like a parent. "My parents are very supportive, but it's hard for them to understand some of the issues I face in my classes," Bradford says. "My mother is a cake decorator, a very artsy type, and my father is in the corporate world, so it's hard for them to relate sometimes. Dr. Evans has been there and understands. You'd think with all the students she sees and meets with, she wouldn't even know your name, but she does, and she remembers what's going on in your life."

Motivated by math: Bradford began as an undergraduate at Purdue in mechanical engineering, but her sophomore year switched into math and later statistics. "I was helping all the engineers with their math and realized that I enjoyed math so much more than engineering, so I made the switch." She also enjoys probability and card games.

Dedicated to a doctorate: Bradford is scheduled to complete her master's degree in December 2011, then she wants to continue on with school. "I've always wanted to be Dr. Denise Bradford."

Role model: In the little spare time she has, Bradford enjoys volunteering and is a beginning marathon runner. She pairs up with Evans to work at a homeless shelter and also has helped out at the annual Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Academic Boot Camp (STEM ABC) for incoming students. "A lot of the students there were drawn to me," Bradford says. "A lot of them don't know that there are African-American females teaching math and statistics, so maybe I can serve as an example. I find it rewarding that I can make a difference just by being who I am, much like Dr. Evans is making a difference by just being there."

By Kim Delker