Missing a math brain

Storyteller: Elena (she/her/hers), 22, New York

The first thing that I think of when I think of STEM is my own relationship to it, which is somebody who has just recently graduated into a STEM field and is looking to pursue my higher studies in it. And I'm also doubling back and working as a science outreach educator. And it reminds me a lot of when I was a student in elementary, middle and high school, because I struggled the most with math, any math based subject or any subject that really involved math was something that I struggled with so much. Ever since the first or second grade, I think I've had extra help and math, whether that be sitting with the teacher, or hiring external tutors. I had several external tutors, you know, for multiple years. And it was math that was always just something that I had to work at. I mean, I know that's because I'm neurodivergent I have ADHD, and I do have a learning disability called executive function disorder, where it's very difficult for me to understand long mathematical equations and steps. It's just not something that clicks in my brain. I don't have a math brain. And I remember in high school in particular just having the worst time. I remember my junior year of high school, I had to transfer math teachers twice, because it was just, it was awful. I mean, part of the reason was my first math teacher did not respect my outlined and very, very well previously established 504 plan. And it became increasingly obvious that he did not care that I was struggling. So that was something that was corrected. And while I did switch to a teacher that cared more, she still had an entire class to take care of. And she couldn't constantly be checking in on me and making sure I was understanding everything. I would say that while I was sitting in those classes, I understood what was happening. Maybe, maybe 45, to like 65 percent of the time. And I just don't, math just never clicked right for me. And it's something that people kind of will bring up and say, Oh, well, if you're not a math person, how do you study science. And that's because not all science is math based. And not all math-based things over overlap in science. I loved science, and I love STEM, but I cannot do math. So I was very lucky that leaving my high school and entering into my college, I was able to find a great couple of teachers and professors that really helped my transition into science, not necessarily specifically math-based sciences. And that's okay, I'm so happy to be starting the next steps. In my life's journey, I am going to continue doing science for the rest of my life. And I know the math that I need to know and that's really the most important thing and what I want to help others do is understand even if you're not good at one part or one entire division of something that doesn't mean that it's something that you have to forget in its entirety. If you love science, but you're not good at math. That's okay.

It's just not something that clicks in my brain. I don't have a math brain.