A raw recount of my childhood encounters with mathematics and how small, insignificant events made huge impacts. By the age of twelve I already had a well-founded love for mathematics and I am incredibly grateful to have cultivated it into a maths degree and career.

My mum always had a great passion for education, she was a qualified primary school teacher but worked in early childhood for most of my youth. She encouraged my brothers and me to read, write and do science experiments in our free time and so once I started school, I was already slightly ahead of the other kids.

My earliest memory of mathematics takes place in kindergarten. The teacher had all the students sit in a tight circle and two students were chosen to battle against each other. Miss S rolled two die into the pit of thirty student’s eager gazes and the first to sum the faces of the die would win! The champion would move clockwise around the circle facing off against each of their classmates until they lost and swapped places with a seated student. I remember absolutely flying around the circle, battling against each of my friends, never losing and never sitting down.

Over the course of the next 10 years, I was put in the category of ‘Gifted and Talented’. It didn’t take long for this to become my personality. In Grade 6, I moved schools and started writing a diary. On my first day of school, my entry read: “I am one out of the three eleven-year-olds and I feel the smartest”. How arrogant of me. I quickly became the girl everyone knew to be the teacher’s pet and they weren’t wrong.

My first role model was Mr D, a wacky, kind-hearted, maths-themed-graphics-tee-wearing Grade 6 teacher. Was Mr D the best teacher ever? Not really. But did he have an inspiring passion for learning, teaching, and exploring maths? Even an eleven-year-old could see. When I finished my work early, Mr D would give me maths textbooks to read and entered some of my friends and I into maths competitions. In my graduation speech, he told the hall how I found a pattern in triangles during one of my lunch breaks which turned out to be Pythagoras’ theorem. I don’t know how true that is, I’m sure he must’ve given me some pretty big hints that day.

By the time I was a teenager, mathematics had become something everyone knew me for, and I LOVED IT! I had a thing, maths was my thing. I was friends with all the maths teachers and I longed for maths class every day. I was lucky enough to have amazing maths mentors my whole life and my love for maths only grew stronger as I grew older. I am so proud to have completed a Bachelor of Mathematics and I love that maths is an integral part of who I am.

Montana Wickens
Queensland University of Technology

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