Derbins stands at the Williamsburg Finish Line after completing day one of the Bike MS Ride Virginia Race.
Christine Derbins never slows down.
Derbins, a math and mass communications junior, is a distance runner for the LSU Cross Country and Track & Field teams, has been skydiving, and has participated in multiple marathons. Most recently, she biked a 150-mile route from Williamsburg to Richmond and back for Bike MS (Multiple Sclerosis) Ride Virginia, biking 75 miles a day and keeping an impressive 17.8 mph pace on day one.
But Derbins wasn’t riding in order to beat a personal record. She was riding for Lauren Jacob, a friend from her hometown of Mandeville, La., who was diagnosed with MS at age twenty-four. Jacob’s diagnosis inspired Derbins to raise $250 to ride 75 miles in the 2009 Louisiana Bike MS event and to raise over $740 in order to ride again this summer.
“It was by far the hardest thing I’ve done, harder than any race or marathon,” she said. “You really learn your limits, and how far you can push your mind in convincing yourself you can do it. I told myself, people with MS have to struggle every day of their life ... when you frame it like that, the seventy-five miles on the second day should be no problem.”
In addition to participating in LSU Athletics and Bike MS events, Derbins is highly involved in the campus community and has won numerous accolades for excelling both in the classroom and on the track. Derbins received the 2011 Wally Pontiff, Jr. Academic Excellence Award and the 2011 TAF Female Scholar Athlete of the Year.
She has also received the Tom W. Dutton Service Award, the Errol Savoie Mass Communication Writing Award, LSU’s Most Outstanding Junior and Senior by Phi Kappa Phi, Honors College Outstanding Freshman and Junior, and the LSU College of Science Most Outstanding Junior.
Derbins has traveled to Beijing with the Honors College Gateway to China Program and spent a semester at the University of Nottingham in England. She has also served on the LSU S.T.R.I.P.E.S. 2011 Executive Staff, worked for Tiger TV, served as an Honors College Advocate, and volunteered as a phone counselor for four different crisis hotlines.
During the fall, Derbins will be working under the direction of Dr. Oporowski of the Department of Mathematics to complete her Honors Thesis, in which she is researching classes of graphs closed under minors in order to discover the finite limits of excluded minors for various classes.
She is currently spending her summer at Duke University, where she will be assistant-teaching two courses on Mobius Strips and Cryptology to gifted 8 -10th grade students as part of the Duke Talent Identification Program (TIP) — an opportunity she found through the Office of Fellowship Advising.
“A year ago in the spring, I was applying for a research math program at LSU, and Dr. Arms was reading over my application essay. Duke TIP was mentioned in my essay, and she told me that I could be a teacher there,” she said. “I applied and I got it. It literally was because of the Honors College, and just because I was going there for something else. They know your interests as an entire person.”
Derbins said she is looking forward to helping the students build upon the knowledge that they already have in an environment that fosters learning for the sake of learning.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing what the kids have to teach me, whether it’s about math or finding your passion,” she said. “I’m looking forward to personal discovery, helping the students find what makes them happy, and then giving them the tools to carry that out. I’m excited to be part of something that’s so much bigger than myself.”
Story by Elizabeth Clausen, LSU Honors College
For more information, contact the Honors College at 225-578-8831