I got one of the most valuable opportunities to form a math club at my middle school to encourage and motivate girls to explore STEM and participate in math competitions. To do this, I invited four female mathematicians from Stanford and UC Berkeley as guest speakers to share words of advice and life lessons from their careers and how they got interested in math being female.

The speakers who taught so much about math from a different perspective were:

**Dr. Eugenia Malinnikova**: a mathematics professor at Stanford University. Dr. Malinnikova went to Princeton prior to becoming a professor where she was a von Neumann fellow during 2018-2019. She also won the Clay Research Award in 2017. Dr. Malinnikova earned her Ph.D. in 1999 from St. Petersburg State University. She researches harmonic analysis, elliptic PDE, and potential theory.

**Dr. Alice Cortinovis**: a tenure-track researcher in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Pisa, Italy. Dr. Cortinovis received a Ph.D. from EPFL, Switzerland. She primarily does research on numerical linear algebra.

**Dr. Catherine Cannizzo**: a postdoctoral scholar at UC Berkeley. Dr. Cannizzo received a Ph.D. in 2019 from UC Berkeley and a bachelor’s and master’s in mathematics from the University of Oxford. She does research in the field of geometry.

**Dr. Krutika Tawri**: a professor of math at UC Berkeley. Her research focuses on deterministic and stochastic nonlinear Partial Differential Equations arising from fluid dynamics, geophysics, and material science. Dr. Tawri received a Ph.D. in mathematics from Indiana University.

All four amazing professors taught me the most priceless life lessons I want to share.

Dr. Malinnikova wisely stated, “There are very many different ways to enjoy mathematics.” I learned that mathematics can be enjoyed through competitions, making origami figures, pushing oneself to solve problems for fun, etc. She also explained, “There is so much development in the world in science, technology, and mathematics because we all think differently. We need people with different minds, backgrounds, and experiences to be successful.” This quote made me wonder if we all thought/acted/experienced everything the same, what would the world be like? Certainly not the thriving societies we live in today.

Dr. Cortinovis also taught me a valuable lesson, “If a math competition goes well, that’s great! If it doesn’t, who cares? So, participate because you have nothing to lose.” I have never forgotten her quote because it applies to everyday life, such as school, work, and sports. I learned that if someone continues trying and never gives up, good results will follow. The effort counts more than the number of questions correctly answered.

“I actually met a lot of interesting people from math competitions. Like… I met my best friend,” Dr. Cortinovis explained. At this point, I felt that mathematics has it all: finding loved ones, sharing interests, and having lots of fun.

Dr. Tawri talked about the gender gap in mathematics, saying, “Math is about problem-solving and logical reasoning. It sees no gender, it sees no race. And that’s why I think it’s also extremely important to encourage young female mathematicians to join the community.” It just goes to show that although gender and race gaps may be discouraging, math is for everyone.

“Show the girls that math is not boring; it’s really fun. No matter what field you are in, you are going to end up using math in one form or the other,” Dr. Tawri explained. I learned that math may be portrayed as “tedious” or extremely frustrating but if you give it a chance, it can become one’s favorite hobby and part of life like it is for me.

“The field is really formed by the people doing it. And the more girls and gender-expansive youth doing math, the better the field becomes.” Dr. Cannizzo stated one of the most real facts is that the math field needs more diversity and the mathematicians are the ones who show the world what math can do.