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Imani Carson Falls in Love With Math

November 2016

Imani Carson copy

For Imani Carson, math was not always her first love; however, the Spelman Honors Program scholar now has her eyes set on making math her passion for life.

1. What inspired you to major in mathematics?
Math was not something I always enjoyed. I struggled with math all throughout my high school career. It was not until my senior year when I was taking Calculus 2 that I realized that though I was struggling, I was actually enjoying the class. I started looking at math as a big puzzle that I wanted to solve. It became a phenomenon that I wanted to understand. I decided to major in mathematics to increase my understanding of the subject that I had grown passionate about.

2. What are your short-term and long-term career goals? How do you plan to use your skills to impact change in your chosen field? 
I am a dual degree mathematics major which means I will spend three years at Spelman obtaining my mathematics degree and two years at the Georgia Institute of Technology obtaining a degree in industrial engineering.

I want to work as an industrial engineer for a few years and eventually attend graduate school to earn my Ph.D. in applied mathematics and become a professor. Because I attend Spelman College, I am blessed to see professors, in all fields, who look like me. Unfortunately, that cannot be said for many Black women who attend predominantly white institutions. I want to be able to make an impact and change this narrative by teaching a subject that I have a passion for while in a space where people like me are very much underrepresented.

3. Please describe any internship, research or study abroad experiences you have had while at Spelman. How (if at all) did these experiences further convince you to pursue your chosen career? 
Last summer I had the privilege of participating in a graduate school preparatory program. This program was designed to allow minority students a glimpse into the realities of graduate school. Students were able to take graduate level classes while also conducting research with a faculty member of the math department. I was in this program I did not see one black woman professor. This program not only increased my desire to go to graduate school, but also showed me the need for black women professors in STEM at predominantly white institutions.

4. What resonates with you most about the film "Hidden Figures?"
What resonates with me the most about Hidden Figures is the fact that the three mathematicians were confident in their skills and knew what they wanted. They were not afraid to upset the status quo and were not afraid to be heard. I only hope to be as strong and outspoken as these women and it gives me a standard to live up to. 

5. What person has had the biggest influence upon you as it relates to your interest in mathematics?
Though I do not have one specific person who has been a big influence in terms of my interest in mathematics, I do have many people in my life who have encouraged me to pursue and stay in this field.

I was influenced by supportive faculty and staff in Spelman’s math department who have given me the tools to be the best mathematician that I can be. My influence is also my family, specifically my mother and my aunt who have always encouraged me to accomplish my goals and follow the path that God has for me.

I am also influenced by the knowledge that I am a product of woman like Euphemia Lofton Haynes, the first Black woman to earn a Ph.D. in math, Etta Z. Falconer, who was a prominent educator here at Spelman College. These are the women who paved the way for me to be able to receive the education I have today.


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