Mathematics Faculty Paves Way for CSULB’s Black Community
February marks a month of achievement, identity, and broken barriers for CSULB’s Black community. Professor of Mathematics and Beach alumnus Dr. Kagba Suaray was recently recognized on Mathematically Gifted & Black for his passionate ways of inspiring Black mathematicians to share their love for math and for themselves. He encourages students to view Black identity not as a barrier, but as an instrument of achievement. A curriculum inspired by his father, Dr. Suaray initiates discussions about mathematics’ African origins while emphasizing the unity and diasporic struggles faced by the Black community.
It is no secret that the STEM field currently holds minimal Black representation. In response to this lack of representation and student inclination to pursue a mathematical career, Dr. Suaray founded the Hesabu Circle. Established during the turbulent summer of 2020, the Hesabu (Kiswahili word for “mathematics”) Circle aims to rebuild Black identities as mathematic doers and achievers. The group formed as an acknowledgement to students growing discouraged because of educators’ failure to bridge the connections and beauty of mathematics to their experiences and cultural perspectives. In turn, The Hesabu Circle’s focus on culture and achievement generated positive results and aspirations for a career in STEM.
CSULB graduate student Miontranese Green has greatly benefited from the Hesabu Circle through a series of professional development opportunities that revived her love for statistics. These professional development opportunities include attending STEM fieldtrips, spearheading mentoring workshops, and facilitating interactions between K-12 students and Ph.D. mathematicians. She also worked closely with Dr. Sauray to tutor African American and underrepresented students in lower division math courses while fostering a space where students can learn without being judged. An impactful collaboration, Dr. Suaray and Green combatted barriers against underserved communities. The Hesabu Circle’s efforts have also reached others within the CSU system, such as aspiring physicist from Cal Poly Pomona, Tre Willingham.
Dr. Suaray’s ability to tie mathematics to cultural heritage paves the way for Black scholars and replenishes STEM with representation and social mobility. The Hesabu Circle is a great contribution to The Beach where students work in unity and become solvers of their challenging histories and celebrate their flourishing identities.