Math. The subject that almost everyone’s go-to description for is “I’m not good at it!”. However, a few bright individuals that some might call lucky don’t use this commentary. One of these individuals is Caecelia Brown, Highland’s 2021 Mathematics Sterling Scholar. Her explanation for her interest in math is, to some, almost suspiciously simple.
“I really just like how, for me, it comes pretty easy, and how I can use it in any subject that I also do. I always figure out a way to incorporate it into other things. It just makes sense for me and my brain to put things together like a puzzle like that,” Brown said.
However, the start to her interest in math began similarly to that of seemingly most people. She initially experienced disdain for mathematics, finding it difficult mystifying. But middle school opened a new door for her, and light was shone on a previously perplexing field. The honors program at her school allowed her to experience math with more of her peers, and at a learning rate that was more suitable for her comprehension style. Her experience with the program is what made her like mathematics.
“[Math] was her favorite subject since kindergarten and/or first grade. She began to lose interest in 4th/5th grade; but her 6th grade teacher reignited it,” Caecelia’s father, Paul Brown said.
Brown plans to carry her unexpected math skills into college and her future career as well, as she’s planning to major in mathematics and minor in astronomy at Pennsylvania State University. She has learned to love the subject enough to major in it, but everyone experiences frustration with their favorite subjects at least once in a while, and she is not immune to this emotion. She experiences irritation with the subject particularly because of the way she feels math is taught in.
“My least favorite thing about math is how it’s often taught. Many teachers don’t actually care about the students truly understanding what they are supposed to be learning and they make it tedious and take any fun out of it, especially for students who don’t enjoy the subject as much,” Brown said.
Regardless of her disdain for the way it’s been taught, her love for mathematics has taught her skills that one might not expect could be applied outside of the subject, like problem solving and critical thinking.
“I think [these skills] could help me if I was ever stranded in the wild because any problems I face I could look at them similarly to a math problem, by assessing all the factors to figure out my solution,” Brown said.
Paul is confident that Caecelia’s aspirations in mathematics will carry her far, along with traits that he believes define her as an amazing person.
“Caecelia, since she was an infant, has always been the kind of person who, once she has determined she wants something, she will see to it that it comes to pass. Honestly, she amazes me almost every day,” Paul said.