This archived article was written by: Maria Ure
Math students said goodbye to long-time College of Eastern Utah instructor Stephanie Dmitrich last July and hello to Sonnet Gravina in January. Dmitrich left to move to Nevada and has since been replaced by Gravina, fresh from Adirondacks. Quite a change one might say, but for Gravina, the only constant thing in her life has been change, at least in a career sense.
Growing up in New York, Gravina lived in Plattsburg, far from the big city. After graduating from high school she worked for a construction company and learned a little about welding and bridge construction – one of her many hidden talents. She has also worked as department manager at a bank.
She and her husband owned a restaurant in Lake George, N.Y. called Algonquin which was open only during the summers until moving to Florida for the winters. After a few years both she and her husband wanted something else as so they both went back to school.
Gravina had always had an interest in math and decided to make a profession out of it. She attended the University of Albany and received her master’s of arts degree. in mathematics. While working on her graduate degree, she taught a few classes at the university and discovered a love for teaching.
After reading the Chronicle for Higher Education, she mentioned an opening in Utah at CEU to her husband who had no rejections to her applying. So, after interviewing, taking a tour and liking what she saw, Gravina packed her bags and made the trek West, leaving behind her husband (who is a biologist/chemist open to options for work in Utah), and their prized Olivia, a year and a half old Boxer, both who will join her in Utah in the summer.
Gravina noted the hardest part about moving was getting through the canyon in the snow. But arrive she did and after doing so she compared Utah with taking, “a step back in time.” She found it strangely pleasing that cars would stop when she tried to cross the street, and was utterly amazed to wake up to a shoveled sidewalk after the snow. And apparently CEU students are doing well to hide their true nature because she said that in general she finds students here “more responsible,” than those she taught in New York.
It wasn’t hard to pinpoint her favorite math class when she commented on geometry, “It’s pretty.” This is manifested throughout her office, with colorful geometrical knick-knacks.
When asked her goals for teaching at CEU she stated, “I want to be one of those math teachers that students leave my class saying, ‘I guess math isn’t that bad.'” Gravina claims that no one really hates math, they’ve just “had a bad experience with it,” and compared it to eating bad vegetables that might not have the right “seasoning.” She also commented that “It’s amazing how well you can do when you have a tiny bit of confidence in yourself.”
One change she would make would be an increase in students attending CEU because the “opportunities here are amazing.”
Even though Price isn’t the most convenient place when you want to go shopping, and you have limited options she says, “I might have found my home.” She’ll stay “as long as they’ll have me,” and seems eager to try to “season” some of those nasty vegetables as well as try some of Utah’s recreational activities.