Everything we do on earth is math – AIMS Ghana valedictorian Dinah Dzikpor

Growing up in Ghana, Dinah Norvisi Dzikpor was interested in math for as long as she can remember. “Anytime I had a math topic to learn, I was excited about it. It was something I have always loved to do!” She would devour math assignments in primary and secondary school, quickly learning the course material and striving to build on her knowledge. Her drive carried her through the taught master’s program at AIMS Ghana, where Dinah was awarded the honour of valedictorian for the Class of 2018. This was not a goal she set for herself, but rather the beneficial by-product of her industrious personality. “I didn’t have a mind to become the valedictorian. What I had in mind was to study hard, be determined, learn, and make friends,” Dinah shared.  

Dinah received recognition from her teachers and classmates in secondary school when she would perform well in class, fueling her drive to continue her pursuit of further education in mathematics. However, she reached a stumbling block when she was studying at the University of Ghana and started falling behind in her courses. She contemplated giving up, but was heartened by the encouragement she received from her friends, father, and emboldened through her faith to preserve. It was after overcoming this roadblock that her interest for math truly came alive.

As she continued to pursue her passion, Dinah noted the she did not encounter many female role models in STEM. She wants to change this for future generations of bright young women by serving as a role model herself. Her enthusiasm is palpable as she discusses ways to increase the number of women in STEM and interest in math. “There are people who are scared of math. They are raised with the notion that math is difficult and abstract. Most girls think it is an area of study that men go into, not women. This mindset becomes a barrier in their mind,” Dinah shared.

Dinah has ideas on how to change this. She believes that by grounding math in real life examples, it will become more approachable and peak the interest of girls and young women in Africa. “Everything we do on earth is math. When you cook, the quantity of ingredients you have to use are ratios. Everything has its base in math and by illustrating this, it will give people the push to explore what math is all about.”

Dinah is excited to leverage her experience at AIMS to continue pursuing a career in mathematics research with a focus on exploring applications of Lie groups and Lie Algebra. AIMS provided her with an enriching environment where she was able to meet students and lecturers from around the world, broadening her perspective. At AIMS, she learned the importance of unity, integrity and honesty, especially as great values for a mathematician. Dinah will certainly continue to inspire those around her, especially young girls who once were like her. To all the young girls and women, Dinah wants to encourage the to “be determined, diligent and persevere.”