Storyteller: Ephraim (he/him/his), 18, Texas
"Hello, my name is Ephraim. I'm studying data science and computer science. And if you would first ask me if I like math, especially in fifth grade, I would say no, not at all. I had a couple of bad experiences as a kid. I used to be the kid that goes like, math is not for me, I'm not a math person. And now, see where I am because anybody can learn math. Just because you're not good at it now doesn't mean you can get good at it.
And so basically, in fifth grade, there's my turning point. I started getting interested in fifth grade, and I took the Texas STAAR test as a state exam, and I did pretty bad on it. I got the lowest grade in my class. And my teacher told me I wasn't gonna be anything in life cause I got a very low, like, very low grade. And that made me feel very sad and discouraged because I can't pass the fifth grade, and I already feel bad. I got the lowest grade in the class. And now she's telling me, I won't be anything, so I'm crying and I'm sad the whole day. I told my mom, and she notices that I'm looking very discouraged and my self esteem is low. It affected a lot of things. Like the days after that, I remember thinking I couldn't do anything with math, I was terrible at it. Like I said, not a math person.
But then I got out of the class, and my mom transferred me because the teacher was saying negative stuff. So then she transferred me to a new class and a new teacher. And then this teacher was an artist. I will never forget her because she had a strong impact on my life. What set her apart is when she taught, she would go around to us individually and made sure we are understanding the problems while she was teaching us, because in fifth grade, kids don't want to raise their hand to ask questions because they're scared or don't think it's cool. And so usually, in a regular class, teachers will teach, and you either got it, or if you didn't you wouldn't ask any questions because you're embarrassed. And that's it. But she went around and made sure every person got it. And also, she would make it relatable in life. She gave us awards candy, and I actually wanted to do math in that class. And that's when it changed for me.
I hated math before with my old teacher, the one that told me I wasn't gonna be anything. I used to just fall asleep in the class on purpose and they'd have to call my mom. But that also shows how much that you can learn and be motivated to study or get more interested in math. I now am studying data sciences, mathematics, and computer science. And I want to be able to inspire more people, especially like me, because I don't know how it is at other colleges, but with my college in my computer science and data science class, I am literally the only Black person. I'm the only African American person in my class. I want to inspire other African Americans because you can do this because most say I'm not a math person. I was able to do it and I was able to overcome. That was my experience."