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That summer, I read a historical note in the margin of my precalculus textbook.
In 2013, I emailed a professor at the University at Buffalo and asked if I could sit in on his Math 431 class.
By the time the final exam came around, so many students had dropped that I was able to sit in the back corner and fill out my paper. I found a website for ambitious math students called Art Of Problem Solving.
I’m so thankful for the chance to speak to all of you.
I’ve gone through so much in my life, and all of it has affected my character and self-esteem in different ways. As a teenager, I was subjected to violence and drug use.
I began climbing and climbing and climbing through the most difficult math problems.
The website trains kids for top tier colleges and elite math competitions, and I’ve been able to put myself through the program.
I retook calculus 2, 3, modern differential equations, linear algebra, and discrete math at the community college.
I was able to get testing accommodations, which allowed me to take my exams while still being in my own mathematical world that I had become used to. I am so glad I didn’t give up, and I hope my perseverance will inspire all of you.” “I was 24 when I took that precalculus class, so what’s really crazy is that I actually went 24 years without knowing how to do any math.
This has let me earn high grades, including multiple 100s on midterms and finals, which I had desperately wanted back when I started at ASU. Yet somehow, I managed to not only learn it in time, but end up mastering it and then get good enough to be a TA/Grader, and then go on to solve 25 math magazine problems (because of what I learned from Ao PS).
I just wanted to share that with you because I feel like my story breaks the stereotype that if you’re not ‘gifted’ at math when you’re younger, you never will be.