N+1 for Everyone

Ana Studart ’25 makes room for everyone in math and CS

Written by Sarah Barnes Photo by Hannah Dearman-So ’25

Share story

Ana Studart ’25 has had a lifelong passion for mathematics and math competitions. At age 13 she represented her country, Brazil, in a Latin American-wide math Olympiad in Argentina, earning a silver medal. She will always remember when, in ninth grade, she became one of only a few hundred Brazilian students to advance to the final stage of the Brazilian Math Olympiad. This meant she’d have a chance to compete against the best students in her country, and she was determined to do well.

As the competition progressed, so did Studart, steadily advancing from level to level with a winnowing group of students. The day before the last phase of the competition, she went to the library to study with classmates who had also made it to the last phase. As she approached the library’s small study room, Studart could see that it was crowded with students, all boys. One of her peers saw her approaching and stood up to meet her outside the room. “He’s going to say there’s no room for me,” was her thought. What he actually said was, “There is only space in here for people who actually have a chance of doing well tomorrow.”

As the only girl in the advanced math classes at her school, she was used to feeling alienated. Studart does not know if her classmate meant that she didn’t have a chance because she was a girl, but that was the message she internalized.

On the ride home that afternoon, Studart’s mother cheered her up and convinced her to keep going. The next day, she did, earning a silver medal and placing seventh in the competition. That felt good, of course, and made her determined to make more space in this environment, not just for herself, but for all girls.

So, in 2018, Studart and a friend decided to create the environment they sought, and founded the Nonstop Project, in which girls teach STEM subjects to other girls. “It started with a friend and me teaching math to about 20 girls, but it expanded over the years. By 2021, when I came to Harvey Mudd, Nonstop had directly impacted more than 1,500 girls from all 26 states of Brazil,” she says.

Nonstop began to grow in size (the project now has more than 50 volunteer teachers) and scope, with instruction offered in astronomy, biology, chemistry, physics and programming to more low-income students. To date, Nonstop students have won more than 150 medals in national competitions.

By 2021, the Nonstop Project comprised a growing network of young women who were eager to participate in math competitions, however, a gender barrier remained, as women were vastly underrepresented in those spaces. Once again, Studart decided to initiate a change, helping to create the Pan American Girls’ Math Olympiad (PAGMO) with four other women from Ecuador, Spain, Chile and Mexico. PAGMO has been held now for three years, with about
15 participant countries every year.

With its mission to educate students to be leaders in their fields who understand the impact of their work on society, Harvey Mudd College was attractive to Studart, whose work embodies these ideals. The College’s reputation for gender parity in computer science was also attractive, and, since coming to Mudd, she’s begun to think of these things in broader terms.

“I hadn’t reflected much until recently on how diversity and inclusion in computer science go beyond who is coding to include other aspects, such as who is affected by that code. Some of my classes, especially my Programming Languages course with Professor Lucas Bang, made me think more about what inclusion and diversity mean in these other aspects of CS, which is something I have appreciated in my Mudd education.”

Studart continues nonstop in her efforts to create more space for people in STEM. At Mudd, she’s taken on several mentorship and leadership roles, most recently as co-director of diversity for ASHMC.

While she’s focused on her studies at HMC, Studart is also thinking about how she’ll keep going after college. “I’ve learned a lot of math at Mudd so far, discovered an interest in computer science, fulfilled the dream of doing research and my lab—even got a CS paper accepted for publication,” she says. “All of this made me more excited about STEM in general and made me more determined to keep working on assuring that other women and low-income students can have the same opportunities as I have.”

Continue Reading

All Articles