Living Proof: A Must-Read

The AMS and MAA have recently published a phenomenal collection of essays entitled “Living Proof: Stories of Resilience Along the Mathematical Journey”, edited by Allison K. Henrich, Emille D. Lawrence, Matthew A. Pons, and David G. Taylor. The book is free, and features an astounding group of contributing authors. The stories are organized around common themes in the experiences. Part I is about math getting hard and people hitting a wall. Part II is about struggling to belong in math (and is particularly well aligned with the goals of this blog). Part III is about persevering through and overcoming difficulties. And Part IV is about the sometimes challenge of integrating our mathematical identities with the rest of our lives.

Enjoy. Reflect. Be the change you want to see in our community.

 

Table of Contents:

Foreword, Stephen Kennedy

Preface, Allison K. Henrich, Emille D. Lawrence, Matthew A. Pons, & David G. Taylor

Part I: Mathematics Just Suddenly Feels Hard! 1

1 In the Deep End in Algebra, Deanna Haunsperger. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
2 The Road Less Traveled?, Lloyd Douglas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
3 Help Will Always Be Given at Hogwarts to Those Who Ask for It,
Allison Henrich. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
4 I Don’t Know What I’m Saying—Using Language as a Model for
Embracing Mathematical Struggle, Steven Klee . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
5 A Complex Conundrum, Matthew Pons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
6 An Accidental Mathematician, Jennifer Quinn . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
7 Nowhere to Go But Up, Lola Thompson. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
8 Hitting the Wall, Laura Taalman. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
9 To Algebra or Not to Algebra, Jacqueline Jensen-Vallin. . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
10 The Unnecessary Struggle of Self-Mandated Isolation,
Alicia Prieto-Langarica . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
11 The Struggle of Qualifying Exams, Alejandra Alvarado. . . . . . . . . . . . . 32

Part II: Who Are These People? Do I Even Belong? 35

12 I Am a Black Mathematician, John Urschel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37
13 Cold, Austere, or Queer, Autumn Kent. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
14 A View of Mathematics from Behind the Veil, Robin Wilson. . . . . . . . 43
15 When You Are Told You Can’t: Do Just the Opposite, Angie Hodge. . . 47
16 Look for the Helpers, Jennifer Bowen. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51
17 Good, But Not on the Team, Tim Chartier. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54
18 Othering and Such Climatic Joy Killers, Arlie Petters. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58
19 Black, Female, … Bigger, Candice Price. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62
20 Moving Beyond Affirmative Action for Men, Alice Silverberg. . . . . . . . 65
21 Struggling with the Messaging of Mathematics, Rachel Weir. . . . . . . . 68
22 The Harassment Is Real, Pamela Harris. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71
23 Sustaining Through Mathematics, Donald Cole . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73

Part III: Can I Really Do This? How Do I Muster Through? 77

24 Good Things Come to Those Who Shower, Robert Allen. . . . . . . . . . . 79
25 Winning by Impression, Robin Blankenship . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81
26 A Walk in the Park Isn’t Always a Walk in the Park, David Neel . . . . . 84
27 Just Don’t Bomb the GRE, Amanda Ruiz. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 88
28 Sometimes When Your Hopes Have All Been Shattered,
Nick Scoville . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 90
29 The Compassion Is Life-Changing, Hortensia Soto . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93
30 A Close Call: How a Near Failure Propelled Me to Succeed,
Terence Tao. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 96
31 Oh My Darlin’ Clementine, David Taylor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100
32 A Dream Almost Deferred, Emille Davie Lawrence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 104

Part IV: What Do I Do Now? What Happens Next? 107

33 Mathematics, Beauty, and Creativity: How I Learned to
Stop Worrying and Love Mathematics, Victor Piercey. . . . . . . . . . . . . 109
34 Five Dollars, Colin Adams . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 112
35 Am I “Good Enough”?, Christine von Renesse . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 114
36 My Journey from Slippery Rock to Duluth, Joe Gallian. . . . . . . . . . . . 117
37 Failure By the Numbers, Dominic Klyve. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 120
38 How I Learned to Research Like the Incredible Hulk
(or I’m Always Angry), Robert Vallin. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 123
39 Anxiety Attacked Me, But I Survived, Ken Millett . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 126
40 It’s Like a Jungle Sometimes, It Makes Me Wonder How
I Keep From Going Under, Christina Eubanks-Turner. . . . . . . . . . . . . 131
41 Should I Quit Mathematics?, Francis Su. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 134

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3 Responses to Living Proof: A Must-Read

  1. Emille says:

    Thank you so much for highlighting this!

  2. Terry says:

    Such a wonderful work!

  3. Alistair Windsor says:

    Many thanks, Brian, for bringing this to the attention of our Department. We have shared this with all our graduate students and I will see it gets to all our majors. Inspirational words as they look to their future.

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