Pursuing Passions

By: Helen Pang

I love math. I know, stereotypical Asian and all, but it’s true. My dad loves to tell a story about me when I was a toddler. I would use my small, pudgy fingers to add, and when I ran out of fingers, I would use my toes too. Then when I ran out of toes, I even tried to use my legs and arms! Picturing five-year-old me trying to count with all my body parts never ceases to amuse – and slightly embarrass – me.

 

My love for math didn’t end there. While all my preschool friends played outside, I learned how to add. My friends watched Spongebob, I memorized my multiplication tables. Then in 2nd grade my parents enrolled me in Kumon, where I truly began my pursuit of knowledge. Kumon is an after-school academic enrichment program, designed to help students develop a love of learning. By 5th grade, I had finished the reading program and reached the 17th of 21 math levels – equivalent to calculus. Although I stopped attending Kumon in middle school due to after school activities, I still owe my passion for math, and erudition, to Kumon.

“Especially in Kentucky, there are not many educational programs that encourage excellence in the STEM fields, particularly among girls. The Kentucky Girls STEM Collaborative is working to fix this, by introducing girls to the infinite possibilities through STEM careers. I truly appreciate what KGSC is doing to fix the gender imbalance in the STEM workforce.”

Eventually, my love for math extended to a love of all things intellectual. History, science, arts, literature, – I strived to excel at everything I came across. It was then that I discovered both an aptitude and appreciation for STEM. In my elementary and middle school years I participated in various educational competitions (such as Governor’s Cup and MathCounts), placing well at the district, regional, and state levels. I was accepted to and attended the prestigious MathZoom and MathPath summer programs of 2014 and 2015, respectively.

Now I am a student at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, enrolled in the Math Science Technology Center (MSTC) program. The MSTC program has truly helped me explore my passions in both STEM and non-STEM fields, through challenging courses and mentoring teachers. In fact, I am currently working to restart the Dunbar Girls in STEM club, which had previously become obsolete. I am very lucky to have such a nurturing community at Dunbar, where I can pursue my interests with the aid of my teachers and fellow students.

“KGSC was created to show girls the infinite opportunities in STEM, and it seems unwise to not take the students’ views into account. After all, the focus is the girls! Having aspiring girls in STEM interact with fellow students adds an atmosphere of comfort and relatability. The members of the advisory board would gain invaluable skills, through teaching and guiding others.”

Most students aren’t as fortunate as I am, however. Especially in Kentucky, there are not many educational programs that encourage excellence in the STEM fields, particularly among girls. The Kentucky Girls STEM Collaborative is working to fix this, by introducing girls to the infinite possibilities through STEM careers. I truly appreciate what KGSC is doing to fix the gender imbalance in the STEM workforce.

Creating a student advisory board would add even more to the organization. KGSC already has a leadership team for adults who lead aspiring girls in STEM.  KGSC was created to show girls the infinite opportunities in STEM, and it seems unwise to not take the students’ views into account. After all, the focus is the girls! Having aspiring girls in STEM interact with fellow students adds an atmosphere of comfort and relatability. The members of the advisory board would gain invaluable skills, through teaching and guiding others.

I hope to lead the advisory board, as I have many aspirations for girls in Kentucky to pursue STEM. I have a great hope to improve the way STEM is viewed by girls, not only in Kentucky, but in the nation.  It would truly be a life-changing experience.

css.php