Meet Victor Bagué, a 2020 Saint Leo University BA in math alumnus who says his experience at the university is helping him educate the next generation at Tampa Catholic High School.
Victor Bagué is confident in saying that he likes playing with numbers more than the average individual. A recent BA in math alumnus from Saint Leo University, he is grateful for the opportunity to share his love of mathematics and philosophy with students at Tampa Catholic High School.
Bagué, 22, is a native of Orlando, FL and now resides in Tampa. He is the middle child of five in a Puerto Rican family with two brothers and two sisters. He graduated from Lake Brantley High School in Altamonte Springs in 2017.
His Path to Saint Leo University
Everyone has subjective reasons for choosing a college. Bagué outlines his journey to Saint Leo University.
“I was considering a few schools,” Bagué says. “My parents wanted me to consider a Catholic school. Saint Leo was one of the first to come up in my search. While Catholic identity wasn’t super important to me personally at the time, it was a good thing in the end.”
He was offered a significant financial aid package and was selected to be in the first cohort of the Emerging Mathematics and Computer Science (EMACS) scholars program at Saint Leo. Funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation, the goal of the EMACS program is to encourage more college students to pursue careers in STEM fields.
Selecting the BA in Math Degree Program
And what inspired him to choose the BA in math degree program?
“The great thing about a math degree is that it is very versatile compared to others,” he says. “Even though I ended up going into education, I could’ve pursued finance, criminal justice, or practically any other field. Math majors are in high demand today.”
In addition to the BA in math, he chose to minor in philosophy.
“I started out as a religion major and also took classes on theology and philosophy in the honors program.”
He started as a freshman at Saint Leo University in the fall of 2017. He lived on campus for his entire time there. Looking back, he is so glad he made this decision.
“I found the community to be very unique. There are great opportunities within student life on campus with a large amount of student activities. There is always something to do. I felt very fulfilled and always had people in my vicinity with whom I could connect. I definitely formed friendships by living on campus that I would not have made had I been a commuter student.”
Top-Notch Guidance from His Professors
Dr. Monica Kiss, a professor of mathematics and current interim chair of the BA in math program, helped him so much as an undergraduate student.
“She was just a great point person to go to,” he says. “She was also my academic advisor. She offered lots of unique opportunities to students outside of the classroom.”
One such opportunity was getting to help run the Math Circle program designed for students in third through eighth grades.
“I got to work with these students in the local area to help them learn math.”
Dr. Timothy Jussaume, an associate professor of philosophy, also made a positive impression on Bagué.
“His classes were some of the best I took at Saint Leo. Even now, I still reference my class notes teaching philosophy.”
He completed the BA in math degree in the spring of 2020.
Spreading His Wings Across Campus
Outside of his academic studies, Bagué was very active lending a hand to fellow students on campus. He was a resident assistant (RA) for Residence Life. Plus, he worked as an orientation leader for new students as part of their first-year experience. He also enjoyed working with University Ministry.
“I was very involved as a student minister for a year. I was part of a men’s Bible study group which is still going today.”
On top of those duties, he was a member of the Math Club.
“Once a week, we would get together to talk about math and play math games,” he says. “We put on some cool events for students.”
For anyone considering University Campus for higher education, he cannot stress the benefits of being engaged in the Saint Leo community.
“Saint Leo provides students with so many avenues within its larger community to get involved in and gain real-world experience right on campus.”
Two Major Saint Leo University Core Values of Note
Responsible stewardship is the most unforgettable Saint Leo core value for him.
“I have always wanted to find ways I could be a great utility to people around me. My goal has always been to make a greater impact on others’ lives.”
Excellence is important to him as well.
“The value of excellence impacts me today. Being in the role of an instructor, I now recognize how much can be accomplished when you strive for more as a student.”
A Career of Helping Young People
While in high school, Bagué started tutoring fellow students in math and had several opportunities to work at University Campus as previously mentioned. Additionally, during his first summer in college, he worked as a missionary with Life Teen Summer Camps, a program geared toward Catholic youth.
His formal teaching career began in the fall of 2020 at Tampa Catholic High School. He teaches Statistics, Algebra 1 and 2, and Math for College Readiness. He recently began teaching a Philosophy Honors course as well. He has taught freshmen through seniors and uses a different approach to the classroom based on the level of the students.
“With my freshmen, I try to make it so that each class offers a unique experience every day,” he explains. “I will lecture, review guided notes, do practice activities, and will even play JEOPARDY! with the kids once in a while.”
He is a little less hands-on with his older students.
“I want these students to be the prime motors for their learning. They have a little more maturity, so they can be more independent.”
He also serves as a moderator for the Spirit Club, a group that facilitates fun activities outside of the classroom.
He describes what he likes most about working in education.
“I enjoy interacting with students,” he says. “I couldn’t see myself necessarily working in a traditional office setting. Working with kids provides me the opportunity to say I’m happy with what I do each day. Also, when students say they have increased their confidence with math and enjoy it more by the end of the year, it’s a rewarding feeling for me.”
Parallels Between Tampa Catholic High School and Saint Leo University
According to Bagué, there are several similarities between Tampa Catholic High School and Saint Leo University, two schools in which he has been immersed.
“Tampa Catholic is similar to Saint Leo University because the learning environment of both institutions facilitates something greater with the students. Both schools are based on Catholic foundations and are mission-driven in which the faculty and staff are so invested in the students. Every student can grow and flourish so much more in these environments.”
The setting in which he educates gives him a platform to achieve his mission.
“My goal each day is to make a positive mark on the students I teach and the institution as a whole,” he says.
A Diversity of Interests
When he takes off his teaching hat, he volunteers with THORN Ministries, a Tampa-based nonprofit that provides food, clothing, and other essential items to the homeless. He enjoys cooking, especially rice and beans, and loves to read and watch movies. Some of his favorite titles include The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien, Mr. Blue by Myles Connolly, and The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch and Jeffrey Zaslow. On the big screen, he recommends Man of Steel and The Peanut Butter Falcon.
Photo credit: The photographs included in this blog article were provided by Victor Bagué and are used with permission.