(November 22, 2013)

Faculty Q&A with Dr. Debbie Shepherd

SHREVEPORT, LA — Dr. Debbie Shepherd joined Centenary this August as an Assistant Professor of Mathematics and is the next faculty member to be highlighted in the continuing Q&A series.

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Dr. Debbie Shepherd

Shepherd received a bachelor's degree in music education from Northwestern State University of Louisiana and later went back to school to receive a B.S. in mathematics education and a M.S. in mathematics from Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville.

In 1991 she passed her actuary exam and worked for General American Life Insurance Company until 1993. She received her Ph.D. in computational analysis and modeling from Louisiana Tech University in 2001 before starting her career at LSUS where she helped construct a concentration in actuarial science.
After four years at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Shepherd and her husband could not wait to get back to Shreveport to be closer to family living in the area.

Shepherd spoke with Marketing & Communication and allowed us to learn more about the actuarial-extraordinaire on a personal level.

Q: Where did you grow up?

I grew up in the Shreveport/Bossier area. I graduated from Parkway High School (a long time ago☺). Growing up, the only time I did not live in Bossier City was when my father was stationed in Spain with the Air Force for three years.

Q: What would students be most surprised to find out about you?

I joined the Air Force to play trumpet and piano in an Air Force band when I was in my 20's. I was stationed in Georgia and the Philippines. In the Philippines, I was in a rock band that played mostly for military clubs on bases in Japan, Korea, Guam, Hawaii and the Philippines.

Q: Most treasured Centenary memory?

I am not sure I have been here long enough to have a treasured Centenary memory, but I do treasure already the ambitious, serious, and hard-working students at Centenary. This is my first semester at Centenary, and I have some of the brightest and sweetest young people in my classes. It is such a pleasure to teach them.

Q: What leader do you most admire?

As far as world leaders, I would have to say Ronald Reagan. I admire him for his support of a strong national defense and for his role in ending the Cold War.

Q: What's an item you still have on your bucket list?

To kick it! But seriously, I love animals, and someday I would like to go on a safari and see the animals in their natural habitat.

Q: What is your goal this year?

I am working on a paper with some of my colleagues titled "Analyzing Phase I Charts for Markov Dependent Attribute Data." I hope to finish it before the academic year is over. I am also working very hard preparing for my classes, and I plan to continue to do so throughout the year. I am looking forward to meeting and getting to know more Centenary students next semester!

Q: What advice would you give your students?

I have an entire list of what I call "Mother Hen Speeches" numbered from 1 to about 25. Here are a few of my favorites:
*Always try your hardest — don't give up if you don't succeed the first time you attempt something.
*When choosing your major or career, make sure the work you will do in this field makes you happy. As the saying goes, if you love your work, you will never feel like you are working.
*Don't let your schoolwork get out of control — keep up with your work on a daily basis instead of trying to learn it all in one night before a test. You will be amazed at the improvement in your work.
*Be nice to your professors — especially the new ones.☺