Parent's death makes student hate, then love, math

"What's six times seven?"

"Forty two!'

"What's sixty four divided by eight?"

"Eight!"

My father always found fun ways to keep me engaged in learning. He would yell out problems and I quickly solved them; it was through our love of math that we bonded. From an early age, my father helped me develop an appreciation of knowledge and of myself, which has helped shape the individual I am today.

My father emigrated from Poland in order to provide his family with a better life. However, he passed away when I was five. I was too young to comprehend what it meant to lose a parent and as time went on, I felt angry and began to act out.

My peers mentioned their fathers taking them to games or helping them build something, and it wasn’t quite same with my mother. I started to hate math as it reminded me of my father and left me feeling abandoned. When I saw numbers, I pictured him.

It wasn’t until seventh grade that my mother helped me turn that anger into ambition. I felt that through math I had a piece of my father with me. I loved participating in math competitions in school, every time I won an award I pictured how proud my father would be to see the individual I have grown to be. When high school came around, I felt anxious but remembered my father's words and with my mom’s encouragement, I was able to overcome the nervousness.

Now, less than a year away from graduating, I gained a new perspective from the values my father instilled in me. Taking the easy way is dull and predictable, which is why I strive to challenge myself and not become another fatherless statistic. I’ve joined clubs such as the math team and the environmental club to be conscious of the world around me.

Every Friday for the past eleven years, I have also attended Polish school. Understanding my father’s culture, my knowledge of Poland's history and the Polish language, helps me feel closer to him. Learning about my father has broadened my mindset and helped me become a role model for younger children. I hope to help them develop a love for numbers just as my father did for me.

Now, less than a year away from graduating, I've gained a new perspective from the values my father instilled in me. I plan to major in the field of mathematics and in thirty years I want to be able to look back and say that I've accomplished my goals. My sibling’s didn’t have the opportunity to go to college and I look forward to breaking that cycle.

Both of my parents inculcated confidence in me which keeps me striving forward regardless of any setbacks. I live by simple words from poet Walter D. Wintle, "If you think you're outclassed, you are: You’ve got to think high to rise."

By Jim Witkiewicz, Senior

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