Posted on Jul 3, 2001

Schenectady, N.Y. (July 3, 2001) – He is an aspiring teacher who enjoys “sitting around talking about calculus.” She is a double major in bio-chem and math who somehow has
time for two radio shows, several research projects and programming for the

They are William Johnson
and Desirée Plata '03, the Union College's Barry M. Goldwater Scholars. The prestigious award supports promising scientists, mathematicians and engineers with a $7,500 stipend for each of their remaining years of undergraduate study.

Johnson, who is a tutor at the Calculus Crisis Center, says he has always known he wanted to be a teacher. “I just want to be in front of a classroom,” he says. “It's one of my
favorite things to do. I like to be in a position where people are asking me to
explain things.”

Johnson was one of 20 graduates in the Class of 1998 at tiny Romulus (N.Y.) High School in central New York. With a classmate also on this year's list, he jokes that a full 10 percent of his high school class earned Goldwater Scholarships.

With both parents high school teachers, Johnson spends his breaks from Union as a substitute teacher at his alma mater.

A Union Scholar, Johnson also is a member of the Rugby Club, Sigma Phi and a Gatekeeper. He has done research with Prof. Brenda Johnson in the field of graph theory and plans to continue that work this summer at Oregon State University. Last fall, he studied math on a term abroad in Budapest.

He may teach at the high school level at first, he says, but eventually he would like to earn his Ph.D. and teach at the college level.