Being a Mathnasium Instructor changed Talya Rejtman’s life forever. Not because she was voted 2017 “Instructor of the Year,” although that’s also true. It’s because it gave her the foundational understanding and love of math that she would use to pursue her dreams in a new career.

“I wish I had a Mathnasium when I was growing up; it would have made calculus less painful,” she said. “I would memorize the formulas, but the next week I would forget all of it. I didn’t have a strong foundation or understanding of the concepts. Now, thanks to Mathnasium, I do.”

Talya’s path toward Mathnasium began just a few years ago, while she studied zoology in college. Talya and her best friend opened a chapter of Roots and Shoots, the Jane Goodall Institute’s youth-led program to improve local communities. They taught local elementary students about animals and plants and helped the kids with science projects. That experience gave Talya the skills to take challenging information and make it exciting, relevant, and easy for kids to understand.

This ability made Talya a natural fit for Mathnasium. After she graduated in 2016, Mathnasium of New Tampa offered her a spot on their team. Center Owners Julie and Matt Williamson and Assistant Director Autumn Carroll took her under their wings, and Talya rose to every challenge she was given. Soon, she was acting as a head instructor, marketing to parents, and managing the Center when the CD and AD were unavailable.

Given Talya’s age, she was truly shocked when she was named “Instructor of the Year” at the 2017 Convention.

“I was terrified to walk onto the stage by myself,” she recalled, “but when I got up there, Julie, Matt, and Autumn stood up. All of a sudden, there was a standing ovation, and my fear disappeared. I felt this incredible sense of support. I was happy and excited and so grateful. And completely overwhelmed. Having that many people clapping, standing…for me? It couldn’t be real.”

Just a few months later, in October, Talya moved to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida to be near her family. Local Center Owner Mo Khalil, whom she had met at Convention along with “many, many other inspiring Franchise Owners,” gave her a spot in one of his Centers. He knew it would be only for a few months because Talya had decided on a new career direction in the health services, still using her math, science, and teaching skills to help others.

“Mathnasium strengthened my STEM foundation,” she said, “and now I want to have a career where I’m using STEM on a daily basis through health care.”

Her goal is to become a nurse anesthetist. She has just started taking the prerequisite classes so that she can enter a 16-month Bachelor of Science in Nursing program called a “second-degree BSN.”

“A lot of people don’t have the science background to understand their diagnoses. I want to use my skills to explain hard concepts to my patients one day—what their bodies are going through—in ways they understand.”

“When you look back at things, you see the patterns and how things relate. I can see where my interests took me. Even though I decided not to pursue a career at Mathnasium, I’m really grateful for the skills I learned there because it’s really going to help me be a better nurse.”

HQ will soon be accepting submissions for the 2018 Instructor of Year. Nominate those Instructors in your Center who make a difference in kids’ lives… You never know what they’ll go on to achieve! Stay tuned to Mathnasium Matters for more details.