Persistence + grit = Success Story

September 26 2018

Becca RichardsonThirteen years ago, Becca Richardson calculated that her desire to stop waiting tables was greater than her fear of math.

Today she’s a living example of both facing her fears and calculating correctly. The former developmental math student is the newest member of NMC’s math faculty.

As an NMC student, Richardson’s math placement test score was so low that she avoided taking any math classes when she first enrolled, after her graduation from Benzie Central High School in 2002. After only a semester that had expanded into avoiding any classes whatsoever.

“I just gave up. Maybe college isn’t for me,” Richardson recalled thinking.

Two years later, however, waitressing was getting “really old” and Richardson returned. Her math placement score was still low, even below that recommended for the most entry-level math course, Math 08. Still, aware she needed at least one math class for a degree, she signed up.

“It only took me a few classes to decide I liked it,” she said. She earned a 4.0 from instructor Mark Nelson in the class, and even tutored classmates, who told her she was good at explaining concepts. Maybe she should consider becoming a teacher.

Richardson took that advice — and more math classes. She transferred from NMC to Ferris State at the University Center in 2007, earned her bachelor’s in math from in 2012, and a master’s from the University of Idaho in 2015. She also taught as an NMC adjunct for five years. As of this fall she’s officially come full circle, settled in the now-retired Nelson’s former office, right inside the Tanis Building’s Math Center, where students come for drop-in tutoring.

She sees reflections of her former self sitting in many of her classes.

“A lot of times, I can remember having the same exact questions,” said Richardson.

Besides herself as Exhibit A, Richardson now has encouraging words for those students.

“I don’t think there’s such a thing as being bad at math. You’re just not practiced,” she said. “Persistence and perseverance is what will get you through.”

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