Pooja AllojuEvery day at Mathnasium, children struggling in math or in need of a challenge gain knowledge, insight, and support that, little by little, inspires meaningful shifts in their attitudes about math, school—and in some cases, their career trajectories. Mathnasium student-turned-Center Director Pooja Alloju looks back on her time as a Mathnasium student and Instructor during her high school and college days, sharing how Mathnasium turned her into an all-star mathlete and paved the way for her to explore a career path she ultimately chose.

“I was always pretty good at math; it was never too big of an issue,” Pooja recalls. “But my freshman year of high school, I decided to take Geometry and Algebra II in the same year. They were pretty difficult classes and the fact that I took them together in the same year was pretty rough on me. My grades started to drop… I was sitting at probably a C+ or a B-, and I had always been an A student.” Pooja’s mother contacted an SAT prep company Pooja previously attended, asking if they had any recommendations for math-only help, and they recommended Mathnasium of Plano, TX (then run by former owner Jeff Piroga).

Pooja The Mathlete

From the start, Pooja’s Mathnasium experience proved eye-opening. “I got an A in Algebra I, but when I took the Assessment, I found out that my Algebra I skills weren’t that great.” After much hard work and diligence throughout freshman year, “I ended up with A’s in both Algebra II and Geometry.”

Pooja’s pivotal year at Mathnasium provided the framework and environment she needed to solidify her math foundations and take her academic performance to new heights. She scored a 780 on the math portion of the SATs; her high scores helped her land a spot in the Texas Academy of Math and Science (TAMS) program for high achievers in math and science. “When I got in, the first person I called was Jeff at Mathnasium!”

Math—and Mathnasium—continued to be a part of Pooja’s life as she progressed through high school and college. She held Instructor positions at Mathnasium of Frisco and Mathnasium of North Dallas and attended Southern Methodist University in Texas, majoring in applied mathematics. Pooja comes from a family of physicians, so that career path was always on the table. However, she absolutely adored teaching, despite not wanting to work in a standard school environment. “One day, I took a step back and realized how much Mathnasium had done for me,” she recalls. “I felt vested. And then I realized that the biggest thing I wanted to do right out of college was work for Mathnasium.”

Inspired, Pooja reached out to Mathnasium HQ in search of career opportunities and flew to Los Angeles to interview. Two months after graduation, she received a call from Director of Company-Owned Centers David Peddie informing her of an open Center Director position at the Woodland Hills, CA center. Two weeks later, Pooja was on her way to California!

So what was it about that initial Mathnasium experience that made it so memorable for Pooja? “Genuinely, it was the method—the way they taught me math. I know that learned helplessness really happens… I used to go to private tutoring, and I remember feeling like I could answer questions when the tutor was in front of me, but the minute they’d get up, I’d feel lost. I don’t think a lot of people realize that this is an actual issue. Mathnasium was great because I was allowed to discover and learn on my own while the Instructors and Center Director monitored and made sure I was okay.”

Since Pooja started at Mathnasium of Woodland Hills in September 2014, she’s had many memorable experiences and has embraced the challenges that come with professional growth. “[As an Instructor] I never sold before. I was always just teaching. But I do mention my experience as a student and as an Instructor to show parents that our program works. I’ll always remember the first parent I signed up. I was so proud!” she recalls. It genuinely makes me happy when kids who were failing when they started start to come in with A’s. And I love it when I see those students who initially didn’t want to be here ask their moms if they can stay a little longer because they have to finish a Mastery Check.”

With moments like those on her radar daily, it’s not surprising that Pooja’s passion for her profession continues to grow. “Overall, my goal is to manage a well-running center where parents know that the instruction they get from us is just phenomenal,” Pooja tells us. She’s grateful for the support she’s received from former and current Mathnasium employers, as well as her fellow Center Directors at other company-owned Mathnasium centers.

“As a working adult, I’ve had a few other jobs. I worked in retail and in the food industry. And I realized that I didn’t enjoy any of these jobs more than I enjoyed working at Mathnasium. It’s just the atmosphere—how we teach kids, and the material itself. It’s just great. Overall, I love it. I love the fact that I went from someone who needed help to someone who is giving help.”

Hear Pooja’s story… in her own words!