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Simone Paul Convinces Students That Math is Their Friend

November 2016

Spelman Math Major Simone Paul Simone Paul, C’2018, is a dual degree industrial engineering and mathematics major. Paul is heavily involved with developing youth through mentorship and education. She volunteers weekly with the non profit, Math Is My Friend, teaching students that they should not fear math but embrace it because "it is their friend."

Paul is also involved with campus organizations like the Miss Spelman Advisory Board, Sisters Keeping It Real Through Service (SKIRTS), the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW), and the Gates Millennium Scholars Program. 

1. What inspired you to major in mathematics?
I often say that math is my first love. I have always enjoyed math since childhood. My parents instilled in me at a young age that education is important and knowledge is power so I took to the books. They even bought me enrichment workbooks for Christmas (how fun, right?), but the books allowed me to develop a skill and passion that I have carried with me to this day. 

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? 
Upon receiving my dual degree, I plan on enrolling in a master’s degree program in mathematics. I will also open my doors to my nonprofit organization and hit the pavement to visit grade schools to find out what their students are struggling with in mathematics and provide scholarships for at-risk kids to build their confidence in this subject area. 

I will also be a mentor to these kids to teach them to be confident and explore themselves socially, academically and globally. Later on, I plan on working for a corporation that needs college graduates to show them how to better operate their company and how to improve on their current operations making it more economically efficient as well as promote STEM. Eventually, I will become a math professor. 

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? 

Upon my arrival to Spelman College, I was awarded the Gates Millennium Scholarship, and through the Emma Bowen Foundation, I became a fellow and was offered a four- year internship contract with Cox Communications to develop job-readiness skills and experience.

While at Spelman so far, I was also able to travel with the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) to Barcelona, Spain for an intensive culture learning class. Through my travels, I developed an appreciation and understanding for the Spanish culture and was able to broaden my horizons. I was also able to see the world in a different light.

As Americans, we are privileged and I want to help individuals in other countries that aren’t as fortunate as us. I plan to apply my leadership skills in the area of developing youth and countries through education. I also plan to join either the Peace Corps or Teach for America and lead others to a better way. In the meantime, I will travel with CIEE again to Rabat, Morocco.

4. What resonates with you most about the film "Hidden Figures?"
“Hidden figures” is a glimpse of what women have been doing for many years. I appreciate that they decided to highlight black women in STEM. The field is small but it is emerging and I think representation matters. This film will give hope to many young girls and women to keep going and claiming our spots in these male dominated fields. It will also demonstrate that we are more than capable and should have confidence. 

5. What person has had the biggest influence upon you as it relates to your interest in mathematics? 
I would say my 3rd grade teacher, Ms. Greggs, had the biggest influence on me. From the first day of class, she greeted each student with warm words and a kind heart. My school at the time was going through an expansion process and building new classrooms so my class was assigned to a trailer. It was cramped, cold in the wintertime, and very displeasing to the eye. There was very little motivation in the physical classroom, but Ms. Greggs and I put that aside and focused on our real reason for being there: achieving a greater education in math and science.

Ms. Greggs went over all the subjects, but the subjects that really stuck out to me were math and science. From that grade-school experience, I have always loved math.  Today, I use my math skills to teach students on the grade school level.  Teaching is a dream of mine and paying forward my love of math to students would be an honor. I see math as an outlet. Ms. Greggs helped ignite my love for math but the phenomenal women who make strides in the field everyday are who keep that love burning.

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