Week of 7.13.07
Update: Gina's StoryAlgebra Project" student from Mississippi, back in 2002. At that time she was still in high school, busy learning and teaching math through the project. Five years later, we catch up with Wilkerson to find out how the project helped prepare her for college and beyond.
NOW: It's been five years since we last talked you. What's happened since then?
GINA WILKERSON (GW): I graduated high school, number three in my class. Since then I've been enrolled in Alcorn State University as an undergraduate studying psychology.
NOW: How have you done at Alcorn?
GW: I've done great at Alcorn and I'll graduate in December. Currently, my G.P.A. is 3.5 and I'm praying that I can get that to 4.0 when I graduate.
NOW: How did the Algebra Project help you with math?
GW: I hated math. It was not so much the work but the way it was being taught to me. Sitting in the classroom, having a teacher talking to you about X equals Y and all these other different equations. I was just sitting there not getting a chance to really understand because I didn't get a chance to participate.
With The Algebra Project, we learned to participate. You got to actually interact. And the different games that they developed to help you with your math just made it awesome.
NOW: Did the project provide you with help outside of math?
GW: Things that I did in The Algebra Project helped me when I came in contact with different situations in life regardless of whether I was at home or if I was away at college. If I needed any help or anything, it was right there. When there was something wrong even at home or outside of school they were just a phone call away. I give them a lot of credit for helping to shape and mold me into the individual that I am now, besides my parents.
NOW: How did The Algebra Project shape you?
GW: I'm not shy anymore. I'm a very outgoing person. At first, I was the shy one, I was timid, I wouldn't talk; I wouldn't step up and be a leader. But, they brought that out of me. They coached me along and they pushed me along. And I'm out of that little shell. I'm not inside that shell anymore and it feels great to be outside of it.
NOW: So what do you want to do after you graduate?
GW: I want to be a psychologist and I plan on getting my masters. I really want to go to Duke University; that's my dream school.
NOW: Why a psychologist?
GW: Working with The Algebra Project, I had the chance to come into contact with a lot of under-privileged children. As far as their education system goes, it was failing them at the time. It wasn't helping them get to the places they need to be. Those children had problems that were emotional behavior problems and it touched my heart. I felt like I wanted to reach out to those kids and to help them.
I feel like the young ones need our help more than the adults do because you have to catch them young and to shape and mold them at a young age so that when they are adults, everything is in place.
NOW: Would you like to see The Algebra Project in more states?
GW: I believe The Algebra Project should be in every school in the country, because it focuses on all of the concepts and the problems that are on the state exam. And in the classroom, you can't learn everything that's supposed to be on the exam because they don't take the time out to focus on this exam.
» NOW: Gina Wilkerson and the Young People's Project
» The Algebra Project