Sarah Hindmand, an actuarial science and finance major at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, tutors Lincoln High School students weekly as a math motivator. Organized and funded through The Actuarial Foundation (TAF), one of the goals of the Math Motivators program is to enhance lives through math education and financial literacy.
"Our actuarial science students utilize their strong math skills and become better communicators by gaining practice straightforwardly explaining a difficult topic as Math Motivators. The high school students who are tutored benefit by receiving help in math and establishing a relationship in the classroom with a college student tutor who becomes a positive role model," said Sue Vagts, director of the Actuarial Science Program, Ameritas Actuarial Faculty Fellow, David P. Hayes Chair of Actuarial Science and associate professor of practice in actuarial science.
Last spring, Hindmand noticed a need for Spanish-speaking tutors. Having taken four years of Spanish in high school, she decided to take on the opportunity for growth and learned classroom terminology and math terms in Spanish.
"At first, the student I was working with was shy and didn't really want my help. After a few sessions, though, he started asking and answering questions in Spanish," she said. "His math skills improved as well."
Hindmand also taught a group how to factor a polynomial using the quadratic formula and the diamond method, which she wasn't familiar with prior. She wrote on the dry-erase board and had each contribute to solving the problem.
"Sarah impressed me with how she prepared for tutoring each week. She learned how to explain math topics in Spanish, which is very different than speaking common phrases," Vagts explained.
Taking on educational opportunities isn't new for the senior from Mount Prospect, Illinois, who interned as a health actuary at Wellabe in Des Moines, Iowa, this summer and hopes to work in the field after graduating in May. Thinking she was not particularly good in math, she won an Advanced Placement Calculus review contest held by the College Board in May 2020, earning a t-shirt for her high school teacher and herself. Then "out of boredom," she taught herself Calculus 3 during the pandemic.
"I had times in school, in fifth and seventh grades, where I moved up a level in math. This felt like my hard work was paying off until I performed poorly because I didn't seek help when I was completely lost in class," she said. "After seventh grade, I still felt behind compared to my peers in my math classes until the middle of high school."
She said that connects her to the students she helps, as she knows what it is like to try her best and still not understand it.
"I wanted to positively impact students because many struggle with math," she said. "My advice is not to let fear or worry keep you from achieving your goals. If I had let my worry of making a mistake in Spanish keep me from tutoring in Spanish, I wouldn't have been able to make a real impact in these students' lives to the extent I did."
Published: October 19, 2023