Meet Math Role Model - Alehssia!
Here with us today is Coco, a ballerina and self-proclaimed math and logic geek! She's on a mission to show girls everywhere that the limit does not exist when it comes to following your passions, whether it's math, dance, or anything else you love. Her days are jam-packed with learning, ballet, and puzzles, but that doesn't get her bogged down because she enjoys it all! We are so excited to learn more about how Coco balances her two passions.
Tell us, how and when did you develop your passions for math and ballet?
I was put into recreational ballet at the age of 2, but didn’t truly care for it until the 2nd grade. I watched the documentary First Position, which presents dancers showcasing their talents within a competition for jobs and scholarships. It peaked my interest, so I worked hard throughout that following dancing season. When it came to showtime I realized how I much I loved performing ballet for people. Nowadays you can’t tear me away from ballet.
Math is the opposite of ballet, in that I don’t believe I developed a passion for it. I was born with love for math. I can’t recall a time when I didn’t think of or treasure math. My family jokes that math is my first language and English is my second.
Wow! That's interesting to hear that you developed a love for math before your love for ballet! Did you ever feel like you had to choose between either math or ballet?
No. My parents always tell me to pursue anything I love. They support all my dreams and I am so appreciative of their support and love. I’m ever so grateful for one of my outstanding teachers I had when I was younger, who helped me learn and grow, as well as letting me sit in for the upper-grade math class after catching me doing their work on my own at my desk.
How do you balance school, your life as a ballerina, and your spare time?
Homeschooling is a huge relief and help, which allows me the flexibility to enjoy ballet and school without falling behind in either. Most days I’m able to finish school work by 1p.m. then I begin stretching and preparing for ballet until it is time for class. Occasionally the day is flipped around. With my spare time I like doing puzzles and love reading books. I also enjoy spending time with my family and friends.
Why do you feel it is important to share your love of math with the world?
Most people think of math negatively and don’t associate it as a subject girls will succeed in. I would like to change the perception people have of math as the impossible or useless subject. I want people to view math as a subject that may take time but will give you a certain satisfaction when you do understand it and answer correctly. I want people to know math is used in everything, even though they may not see it. I absolutely aspire to show that women and girls can do anything they set their minds to.
That's our mission as well :). How do you think we can encourage more girls to learn to be interested in math?
I don’t believe you should push anyone to do math until they dislike or are stressed because of tests, grades, and homework. I think it is important to encourage and support girls to learn and see math in what they each love. I don’t think the doors of math should open and close to any certain age, personality, or gender. I believe we should encourage girls by opening the doors with words of confidence, teachers willing to assist, and learning to advance their intellect. So many aspiring women have opened the door. I would like to give it another push so it sits open wide.
You may be young, but you are well on your way to becoming a huge role model for girls! Who is your role model?
I have strong women on both sides of my family who play a huge influence on me. Outside of my family, I would have to say Merritt Moore, who is known as the Quantum Ballerina, is my role model. She is a ballerina and a quantum physicist who has inspired many by showing that you don’t have to pick between the arts and science/math.
We love her too! She's a huge inspiration. Finally, what advice would you give to little girls who are interested in both math and the arts?
You should do it. If this is what you want to do, chase after it without letting anything or anyone stop you.