On Saturday March 2, 2019 over 90 high school students, teachers, and parents from the six counties closest to Sonoma State University came to campus to celebrate the participation of women in the mathematics, and more generally the STEM fields. Despite the rain on Saturday there was a fantastic turn out with just about everyone who registered attending!
The name of the 2019 event, The Sonia Kovalevsky High School Mathematics Day (SK Day) honors Sonia Kovalevsky, a Russian woman born in the middle of the nineteenth century who, despite social standards that barred women from the university, went on to become a prominent and influential mathematician and one of the first women to receive a doctoral degree in mathematics.
Participants at the first SK Day were treated to a keynote lecture by, Santa Rosa native, Dr. Anastasia Chavez who is currently a post-doctoral researcher at UC Davis. Dr. Chavez spoke about the challenges she faced as a student while she progressed towards her PhD in Pure Mathematics at UC Berkeley and the importance of perseverance and connecting with great mentors.
Towards the afternoon there were several hands-on sessions led by Kandis Gilmore of the Biology Department, Drs. Natalie Hobson and Martha Shott from Mathematics and Statistics, and Dr. Shubbhi Taneja from Computer Science.
These hands-on sessions let the participants get a taste of college mathematics and what it means to DO MATH.
The Math Club at SSU organized a Scavenger Hunt that forced everyone to both network with each other and use their mathematical skills to solve the challenges and win prizes!
After lunch Gina Geck, the Director of Student Recruitment and Outreach led a session introducing the CSU system and some tips for applying to college.
The event ended with a Career Path Panel where undergraduate, graduate, and professional female mathematicians shared their experiences along their own path and advice for the high school students in attendance, followed by an awards ceremony for the winners of the scavenger hunt.
The day was full of joy for both participants and volunteers alike. Planning has already begun, and everyone is looking forward to doing this all again next year!