2011 AWM Essay Contest: Middle School Level Winner
By: Sophia Marusic, Wydown Middle School , Saint Louis, MO
“If I had know that I was going to be videoed, I would have done my hair!” laughs Mrs. Anne Fleming, with a trace of a Scottish accent in her voice. I smile and sit down in the library desk chair across from her. While I quickly look over my questions, I also look over Mrs. Fleming. My first impression of this Scottish market researcher is one of a quiet, polite, and intelligent woman, a woman with a passion for math. Wrong first impressions triumph once more. As I began the interview, Mrs. Fleming slipped from her quietness and settled easily into a talkative and friendly manner. She opened up to me her about life and her love of math.
Anne Fleming grew up across the Atlantic in Scotland. As she delves into memories of her childhood, a dreamy look becomes fixed in her eyes. She attended a streamed high school, a high school where students are chosen because of their IQ. She had a well-rounded education and took many math courses. At the time, there was a great need for math teachers in Scotland, so during college this market researcher studied hard to become a math teacher. After graduating from college, she began to work as a wonderful high school statistics teacher. She met her husband while in Scotland, and they moved to St. Louis, Missouri. Currently, Anne has a loving family consisting of a husband, two children, and one grandchild.
Although Mrs. Fleming loves to teach, she has not yet returned to school to get a United States teaching degree. It would take many years to achieve a United States teaching degree, and when she arrived in St. Louis she had easily began working in finance. Mrs. Fleming is now a market researcher at the locally owned company, Peters Market Research. There she works to find what product is the best for companies to sell and if their products stay the same year after year. She loves the variation in her job because she could be working for clients selling dog food or grape juice. Anne uses math in her job in many ways. She uses statistics as well as computer science. She creates sample sizes and manipulates quotas; she also decides if a result is important or not.
Although Mrs. Fleming loves her work dearly and does not want to retire anytime soon, she also has a hobby that she loves just as much. This market researcher loves to dance. Anne enjoys square dancing as well as ballroom dancing. To her, square dancing is math applied to music.
When I asked the most important question, what do you like most about math, Mrs. Fleming responded with the true fire of a math-loving woman: “Sophia, I love math because it is logical and so practical. It makes sense to me and you can always check your work. Once you learn a formula it just has to be applied, as long as you are neat it will almost always work out.” Her favorite branch of math is geometry because, as she puts it, “It is visual and deals with real spaces. It is like detective work for me. If I know some facts I can use what I know, plus a rule or two, to find out other things.
Nearing the end of our interview, Mrs. Fleming passed along important advice for students planning to pursue a career in mathematics. “My advice for a student pursuing a math career is not to limit yourself. There is math in almost anything. So keep your area of study well balanced. Don’t forsake the arts because they are also mathematical.”
Anne Fleming is part market researcher, part dancer, and part teacher. When you add the pieces of Mrs. Fleming together, you will find that you have an intelligent, warm, math-loving woman. Anne has taught me that math is logical, but can apply to the arts. She has taught me that math and music equal dancing. Most of all, Anne has taught me that I can find a streak of math in anything and not to put a limit on my future which is blooming with possibility.
About the Student:
My name is Sophia Marusic and I am in the sixth grade at Wydown Middle School, in Clayton, Missouri. I love math and all the different branches of it. My favorite is algebra. I love swimming and playing volleyball. I also enjoy drawing and art.