Recently I was invited to Spark London ://stories.co.uk. event. Spark London invvites the general public to come to a theatre and give a 5 minutes story about your life. At first, this sounds very challenging. However on the day, they were very supportive in their advice and coaching. I have to say each of the other speaker’s talks were fascinated.
My talk about my mathematics story
This is my story
In America out of population 250 million but out of 46 million African-American it is estimated only approximately 300 have a PhD in mathematics. An American columnist once stated that Black people were intellectually inferior because there has never been a Black Mathematician who has won the Field Medal, the greatest prize in mathematics. My name is Nira Chamberlain, when I was growing up mathematics was my strongest subject but I never had a passion for it but I had a dream that one day I would become some type of super mathematician. However, my career teacher stated I should become a boxer and my classmates would racially tease me if ever I became top of the class. There were no Black Mathematical role models just entertainers and sport stars for me to inspire to. Despite of this I pursued mathematics through GCSE, A level ,degree and finally Masters. I was never the best at what I did but I did enjoyed watching other mathematicians solving the most complex of problems. I had plenty of enthusiasm but I was terrible at exams nor was very confident. Then one day I met the Congress of African-American Mathematicians http://www.caarms.net/home.aspx who challenged me to do a PhD in mathematics. I was inspired and applied to do a PhD but at the interview the University Professor rejected me on the spot calling me naive and technically weak. Defeated and discouraged I went home but my Dad gave me these rousing words
You don’t need anybody’s permission to be a great mathematician
With this, I began to study harder, I lived breathed and eat mathematics. I soon realized that I may not be good in exam conditions but I was very good at solving real life mathematical problems outside academia. I went on to work in France, the Netherlands and Israel doing the mathematics that nobody else could do. 15 years later within 2014 within six months I got my PhD in mathematics, I was awarded by the Science Council as one of the UK top 100 Practising Scientist and in 2015 I became the First Black Mathematician to be referenced by the Who’s Who since its establishment in 1849. There are only 30 mathematicians in the Who’s Who and they tend to be the top mathematical geniuses in the Britain. I am glad I never became a boxer, but I persevered with my dream and became a super mathematician after all!