This week, we present two stories about the struggles "math people" face. Part 1: Lew Lefton tries to succeed as both a math professor and a math comedian. Part 2: Vanessa Vakharia faces her first day as student teacher of a math class. Lew Lefton is a faculty member in the Georgia Tech School of Mathematics and the Assistant Dean of Information Technology for the Georgia Tech College of Sciences. He also has the role of Assistant Vice President for Research Cyberinfrastructure at Georgia Tech. Lefton co-founded and is the acting executive director of Decatur Makers, a family-friendly makerspace in downtown Decatur. He is on the board of the Southeast Makers Alliance and has been involved as a co-producer of Maker Faire Atlanta since 2014. Lefton has a bachelor of science degree in math and computer science from New Mexico Tech, and a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Illinois. He moved to Decatur in 1999. Lefton is also an accomplished and experienced comedian who has done stand up and improv comedy for more than 30 years. Vanessa Vakharia is the founder and director of The Math Guru, a super cool boutique math & science tutoring studio in Toronto. She has her Bachelor's of Commerce, Teaching Degree, Diploma in Graphic Design and Master's in Math Education. She specializes in teenage engagement in mathematics education, with a focus on encouraging young women to pursue STEM related fields as well as reinventing media representations of females as they intersect with math. She travels globally engaging audiences with her workshop, “Imagining a World Where Kim Kardashian Loves Math,” encouraging teenagers, teachers, and EVERYONE to re-interpret and re-invent traditional stereotypes of what it means to be a “math person.” She is also a founding member of Goodnight, Sunrise, a rock n roll band where she plays the keytar and belts lead vocals. Yes, she totally wants to be a rock star, who wouldn’t? Mindy Kaling is her idol and Vanessa believes that she should be yours too.
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