If I can get this far, then it would be fair to say that any girl possessed with a fascination of mathematics can as well. I think my life has proven anything is possible.
I was only in Year 8 when I left home and dropped out of school. After a few years on the streets, I realised education was my gateway to the stability I craved. In the end my Year 12 results surprised even me. Asked what I’d like to do next, I responded “mathematics”. I was quickly told it was a silly idea and I wasn’t smart enough. I don’t think I am unique in this experience. I first entered the University of Melbourne intent on helping others through social work, but instead ended up drawn to music’s mathematical axioms and a musicology degree. While I loved many things about music, and still do, surviving from gig to gig and through piano teaching was very uncertain.
I was inspired to return to my maths dream after watching my housemate complete her physics degree in her thirties. I remember thinking, well if she can, I can. It has been a lot of work but maths has given me a wonderful sense of community, a chance to be part of something bigger and a platform to make a difference for others. Initially I studied pure mathematics but decided to transition to mathematical statistics for my PhD. I am in love with my field. On any given day I could be working on code, deriving mathematical equations, creating interactive simulations or discovering data visualisation.
We need role models at every level, I want to share this magical world of numbers that I’ve discovered. I want everyone to know that you can solve the problems of today and tomorrow while doing something endlessly fun and exquisitely beautiful.
The study and practice of mathematics is more creative than I ever thought was possible.
A FORMER MUSICIAN AND A PASSIONATE ADVOCATE FOR WOMEN IN SCIENCE, CHARLES IS CURRENTLY COMPLETING A PhD AT LA TROBE UNIVERSITY WITH A FOCUS ON MATHEMATICAL STATISTICS.