Left to right: William McWorter Jr, PhD (OSU ’63); Thyrsa Frazier Svager, PhD (OSU’65); Carolyn Mahoney, PhD (OSU’83).
Welcome to the Black Math Story Blog!
Black Math Story provides all the information about Ohio State’s Hidden Figures Revealed project while our main website is under construction. Feel free to independently browse via our navigation bar, including Events, Lessons, and Our Team.
This blog provides an overview of everything that our team worked on during Women’s History Month!
Read on to find out what the Hidden Figures Revealed project accomplished during the month of March.
⟫ FEATURED MATHEMATICIAN: Dr. Carolyn Ray Boone Mahoney
For Women’s History Month, we’d like to feature a hidden figure who significantly improved the environment for women in mathematics: Dr. Carolyn Mahoney –
Dr. Carolyn Mahoney was born on December 22, 1946 in Memphis, Tennessee to Stephen and Myrtle Boone. As the sixth of thirteen siblings, she grew up in a hectic household. Whenever Dr. Mahoney managed to snag some precious free time, she spent it solving math puzzles.
As Mahoney grew, so did her love for math. She attended Father Bertrand Catholic High School, where nuns encouraged her mathematical pursuits and even arranged scholarships for her. She went on to study at Mount St. Scholastica for college, later transferring to Sienna College where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics. She then completed her master’s (1972) and doctoral (1983) degrees from The Ohio State University. Upon graduating, Mahoney became the 25th Black woman in the United States to earn a PhD in mathematics.
After graduation, Dr. Mahoney found jobs as a professor, program director, board member, provost and university president. Mahoney performed each position with pride, acting as a “mirror” for Black women in mathematics. Through her leadership roles, Mahoney fostered a welcoming environment for women studying math. She served as the President of Project CEOS, which stands for “Comprehensive Equity at Ohio State,” and exhibited leadership by increasing enrollments among women at Lincoln University—where she led as the university’s first female president.
For her work in mathematics and math equality, Dr. Carolyn Mahoney has merited both a California State University scholarship and Lincoln University walking trail in her name. Among honors, she has received the National Association of Mathematicians’ 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award and the Ralph S. Brown Award for Shared Governance from the American Association of University Presidents (AAUP). In public recognition for the contributions she made to the “growth and progress of Ohio, the United States, and the world,” Dr. Carolyn Mahoney was inducted into the Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame in 1989.
Stay tuned for Dr. Mahoney’s mathematics lesson, slated to be published in May!
⟫ UPCOMING EVENT: Hidden Figures Math Workshop starting April 2022 (external link to flyer here)
- Tuesdays from 5:30 to 7:00pm EST; for students in grades 6-8
- No registration required!
- At the African American & African Studies Community Extension Center; 905 Mount Vernon Ave, Columbus, OH 43203
Learn more about the hidden stories of Black math alumni from The Ohio State University. You’ll find inspiration in their determination to achieve their goals and have fun exploring their mathematical ideas through hands-on activities. There will be board games, paper dragons, knot puzzles, and more! Each session we will focus on a different story. Sessions are not sequential, so you can attend whichever ones you are able to. To read more, view the event flyer on our Events page.
From left to right: Elizabeth Arend, Imani McCormick, Devin Suttles
Every month, our blog likes to give a shout-out to some of our project’s MVPs. This month we feature several team members from the Hidden Figures Revealed project’s largest team: Communication. The team’s seven members work closely together to create stories, Black mathematics graduate profiles, and all our digital content.
The Communication team gives a shout-out to Jordan Carter for his research investigations for hidden figure profiles, skill at finding archival photos, and wonderful collaborations with Joshua Edmonds, including work on the logo and the original video Jordan presented at an undergraduate research forum on campus as one of two Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) Fellows sponsored by Ohio State’s Office of the Dean during our project’s start-up phase (summer 2021). Jordan graduates from Ohio State’s Hidden Figures Revealed HBCU partner, Central State University, in May 2022.
Beyond training Communication fellows, Joshua Edmonds provided photography for the project and shared knowledge about achievements of Ohio State’s Black graduates stemming from his groundbreaking work on the Hall of Fame event for the 50th Anniversary of The Ohio State University’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion. Ethan Rivera (Battelle Center) provided technical support and professional training for the fellows and Cathy Ryan (Co-I, Department of English) provided leadership and supported fellows on multiple fronts, including research, website blog, and project deliverables.
We asked Communication fellows Elizabeth Arend, Imani McCormick and Devin Suttles some questions about their role on the team, what they’ve been working on, and more.
➢ What is your role on the Hidden Figures Revealed team? What have you worked on so far?
Elizabeth: As a communication fellow, I’ve been conducting in-depth research on my assigned hidden figures. My days consist of digging through Ohio State’s library archives, unearthing photos and articles I can use to create my hidden figure’s profiles. When I’m not conducting research, I’m designing digital content to promote our project—like the blog page you’re reading right now.
Imani: As a Communication fellow, I identify and evaluate articles on a weekly basis to present findings on significant historical events and university policies impacting the academic achievement of Black students in STEM. My research also provides the foundation to author digital narratives of select Black mathematics alumni for the final project website and for K-12 classrooms. Recently, I’ve expanded my efforts to lead the project’s digital marketing strategy to extend the project’s reach beyond the Ohio State community and develop a poster campaign for local schools.
Devin: I am tasked with creating the profiles for many of the Hidden Figures stories that will be showcased on the website throughout other forms of media that this research project will produce. I have to not only formulate the stories of these spectacular individuals through research in the Ohio State archives but I also have to find photos and digital media that help expand the storytelling aspects of the project.
➢ What originally drew you to this project?
Elizabeth: I applied to Hidden Figures Revealed a few days after the project flyer popped up in my inbox. I read the project overview and loved the idea of creating math content using an intersectional lens. I think it’s important we make math more accessible for everyone here in the United States—especially for those who are underrepresented in the professional math world.
Imani: Everyone has a story worth telling. Black stories and achievements are often overlooked or forgotten. All it takes is for one individual to bring that story to life to inspire the next generation to make their mark. Joining Hidden Figures Revealed is an opportunity to showcase the stories of Black mathematicians and promote the intersections of STEAM and racial justice while also sharpening my storytelling and research skills.
Devin: I have always had a passion for diving deeper into fascinating historical Black figures that have helped pave the way for the successes of our world today. I think it is important to share these stories so that future generations can gain inspiration from them especially those in minority groups with an interest in STEM. So this project became an opportunity to help share and highlight people that could one day encourage more minority students to be a part of the STEM field and bring about even bigger contributions to the industry and our society.
➢ What’s a favorite piece of content you would recommend to others?
Elizabeth: I will never get tired rereading the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. Author Rick Riorden introduced middle school me to Greek mythology in an entertaining way that I can’t help but revisit every once in a while.
Imani: Every morning, I read a page from The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living by Ryan Holiday. I find stoicism to be one of the most interesting branches of philosophy. Observing famous stoics’ way of life, one page a day pushes me to lead each day with mindfulness and resilience.
Devin: I’m currently watching the show, Bel-Air, on Peacock and it is a great show that provides a really great spin on the original Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. I think if you are looking for new shows to watch or would like to watch a good story that focuses on themes about finding yourself then I would definitely recommend it.
➢ Could you share what you study in school and what you want to do after graduating from Ohio State?
Elizabeth: I am pursuing an Integrated Major in Mathematics and English (IMME). With this major, I hope to combine my mathematical sense with English tools, creating written products that parse complicated math problems into digestible chunks.
Imani: I am studying Sociology on the Pre-Law track. After graduation, I am interested in pursuing a joint MBA/JD with a Sports & Entertainment focus.
Devin: Since the age of six I’ve always had a fascination for how machinery came together. Though my parents didn’t enjoy it, I was the kid with legos all over the living room floor. But now as a mechanical engineering student at Ohio State, I’ve realized there are so many industries that are tied to engineering that I leave an impact on. I personally want to work in the industry of advanced robotics with artificial intelligence. Since artificial intelligence requires a software background, I sought an internship at Rockwell Automation. Rockwell Automation is a manufacturing based company that creates controllers for many technologies you see today such as machine manufacturers, automotive assembly lines, and even roller coasters. I am going into my third year at Rockwell Automation and, up until now, I’ve been on the software development team through the Rockwell Engineering Pathways Program (REPP). This summer I will start my first mechanical engineering project that will focus on the sustainability of plant life using Rockwell’s very own controllers. I can’t wait to be a part of this work as I hope to continue to push forward towards my dream of becoming a mechanical engineering professional.
➢ Which team member would you like to shout out?
Elizabeth: Shout out to Ethan Rivera for helping me with some major technical issues back in January. You rock!
Imani: Working alongside Liz has truly been a joy. She comes to every meeting with a positive, go-getter attitude and does not shy away from a challenge. I am grateful to have a team member like Liz who possesses an unwavering confidence and work ethic, and I cannot wait to see what lies ahead for Liz after graduation.
Devin: I want to shout out to Dr. Ryan for presenting me with the opportunity to be a part of this amazing team and research project. I really appreciate you, Dr. Ryan!
Banner Photo Credits:
“William A. McWorter” provided by William McWorter III, https://www.legacy.com/us/obituaries/dispatch/name/william-mcworter-obituary?id=26295371.
“Thyrsa Frazier Svager” by Mr. Aleksandar Svager (public domain)
“2005-2012: Dr. Carolyn Mahoney” provided by Blue Tiger Commons at Lincoln University, https://bluetigercommons.lincolnu.edu/presidents/19/.