Math: The “Impossible” is always Possible
Storyteller: Franklin (he/him/his), 20, New York
“There was once a time I believed I would never appreciate nor be good at math. I knew very early on that I wished to pursue a career in Science, Technology, or Engineering, but Math was where I drew the line. From grades K-8, I remember often counting my fingers when solving basic addition and subtraction equations in class and at home, never getting close to good grades on exams, and often scoffing whenever my homework had word problems needing solving. I often needed help from my peers and teachers and got some help from my parents up to a certain point (My parents never really learned how to solve for “x” when they were in school in Ecuador). I felt ashamed that I wasn’t good at math, especially when there were classmates and family members who could solve multiply big numbers in mere seconds.
I assumed that things wouldn’t get better for me in high school, especially when I heard fear-inducing stories from upperclassmen about how difficult a ninth grade math course like Algebra and the “impossible” AP Calculus course for 11th and 12th graders. Although I kept that belief about me not being good at math all throughout elementary and middle school, I prepared for the worst. It turned out my predispositions would be proven wrong as I took Algebra in 9th grade, Geometry in 10th, Algebra 2/Trigonometry in 11th, and eventually AP Calculus in 12th grade. I would be lying if I said I understood everything but I was proficient enough that I found myself often helping my peers with solving problems on homework and studying for exams.
I felt very confident in my ability to do math during high school. So much so that I became a homework help volunteer for students K-8 in my local community. This turnaround from believing I was the worst at math to helping students who struggled like me made me realize that the things we believe we can’t do are never impossible.”