Growing up in Upper Marlboro, Md., Dr. Lynnell Matthews gained a keen grasp of mathematics that she never let go of.
"I was in an eighth grade geometry class where Lydia Bowen was my teacher. No one really expected to get an A in her class.... A B+ to us was an A in her class.
"One quarter I got an A," Matthews remembers. "She told me that I really had a talent for math. That comment made me feel like I was good at this. ... At that point, I decided to major in math, not knowing what that meant."
Obtaining a doctorate in math, however, turned out to be more difficult than anyone would have predicted for Matthews.
"One semester my mother suffered a stroke and became ill, and I had to leave school," Matthews recalls. She quickly rehabilitated and recovered, but then suffered a second, more serious stroke, which paralyzed her whole left side.
"When my mother became ill, family responsibilities changed. I ended up leaving with a master's degree, but my goal was always to go back and get my Ph.D."
Matthews took a job at Bowie State University in Maryland and worked there for almost two years before she could return to Howard University and finish her doctorate.
She notes she couldn't have achieved her goal without a strong support system.
"My husband was there from day one. We've been together since high school," Matthews says, adding, "My family members have really been remarkable.... From an academic perspective, my adviser and Naiomi helped me. Naiomi and I studied together all the time. We literally had the same background. She was married and had kids, and we were in the same boat. I don't know when I would've finished without her. I know I haven't thanked her enough."
Matthews recently completed a visiting professorship at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania and will serve in a postdoctoral position at the University of Pennsylvania for the next two or three years.
references: Author/s: Gabrielle Finley, Issue: August 29, 2002
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