Keatra Nesbitt has loved math from the moment she opened a little green algebra book in fifth grade. As Keatra was a very social child, her teacher gave her the sixth grade book to fix her “chatty” problem—and it worked. Keatra was immediately intrigued by all the numbers, letter and symbols. She followed her passion for math throughout middle school and high school but when entering college Keatra decided to major in business. She thought that she should pick a major that would lead quickly to a well-paying job. She soon learned however that she could follow her passion and have options for a high paying career and this May, Keatra graduated with her bachelor’s degree in Mathematical Sciences.
Keatra attended a REU last summer in Berkley, CA. A REU is a research experience for undergraduates and allows students to spend a summer performing research at some of the nation’s top institutions. Keatra took graduate level course work, perform research on high ranking elliptical curves and spent time with other like-minded youth, many of whom have since become some of her closest friends. She has presented her research at a number of professional meetings and received an award from the Society for Advancing Chicanos and Native Americans in Science for outstanding presentation and research contribution.
Keatra was able to share her enthusiasm for mathematics when she worked as a councilor for the high school math camp “Las Chicas de las Mathematica” directed by Drs. Soto-Johnson and Craviotto. The informal slogan for the camp, which is held during the summer on the UNC campus, is “calculate, challenge, create confidence…and inspire.” Keatra was the ideal counselor to inspire the young women attendees—when you hear Keatra talking about her experiences both in and out of the classroom, her passion for mathematics is evident.
Keatra credits her ability to attend the REU and participate in the many other experiences during her college journey to the support she received from UNC. “The professors here recognize my love for math and because of that I know that I will be successful.”