Student Essay Contest

Dedication: the Key to Being Great: An Interview with Peggy A. Shamleffer

2011 AWM Essay Contest: Middle School Level Honorable Mention

By: Lisa Raymond-Schmidt, Wydown Middle School, Saint Louis, MO

When growing up, your elementary school teachers may ask “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Many reply, “An astronaut,” the legendary dream job that never seems to come true. Others say, “A teacher” because they love to be the teacher’s pet and make the teacher happy. But when you love math those jobs don’t seem to do the trick, and you can’t quite quench your thirst for mathematics.
Peggy A. Shamleffer has always had a craving for math. Puzzles seem to help calm her craving, but accounting is what prevents it. Peggy is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) who has been self-employed for 22 years. She does tax and accounting work for individuals and small businesses. She also does investment planning to help individuals meet their financial goals. She uses math in her job to reconcile bank statements, calculate tax returns, and calculate rates of return. She loves that accounting involves basic math, and even though it is a skill taught in elementary school, it is needed in her job.
Peggy is drawn towards mathematics because of “the satisfaction of solving a problem. I also like that you can often solve the problem two ways and verify your answer. I like the logical part of math; once you calculate an answer you can often determine if it makes sense.”
In high school, Peggy always had math worked into her schedule. She worked in retail and reconciled the cash register and prepared the daily accounting reports for the company during her high school years. Her senior year she took an accounting class and knew that she not only was going to pursue a math related career, but also a career in accounting. In college she entered accounting and performed well and enjoyed the classes. She ended up graduating from University of Missouri with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. Mrs. Shamleffer has also worked for a public accounting firm preparing taxes, for a bank in the cost accounting department, and for another bank as a financial analyst.
She loves that children that are so young think about pursuing a mathematical career as an accountant. She says “Go for it! There will always be a need for accountants and the variety of work keeps it interesting. CPA’s are typically well paid and there are many different jobs you can perform. It is also a good career for a woman since there are many women CPAs in high positions in many companies, and down the road it is a good career to pursue if you are interested in working part time.”
Peggy A Shamleffer is a truly inspiring person. To make a living for 22 years being self-employed is simply amazing, and almost hard to believe. But it wasn’t smooth sailing to get to the position she is in today. It took persistence, courage, hope, and most of all, dedication. Dedicated is the word that describes Peggy best. Very few have enough of it to last a lifetime, but dedication is the key to being great.
About the Student:
My name is Lisa Raymond-Schmidt, and I am a sixth grader at Wydown Middle School, in Clayton, MO. My favorite subjects are math and literacy. My hobbies are volleyball, singing, soccer, softball, and piano. I like math because there is always a solution to a math problem, and because math is challenging, so when you find the answer to a hard problem, you feel very proud.