We are proud that Math CEO builds friendship, support, laughter, and knowledge to our students and mentors alike. Our community art project and testimonials from the community demonstrate just how impactful Math CEO is to the lives of those involved. 

Math CEO Community Art Project 2021: What We Have Together

Melissa Lepe, UCI Mentor

“My piece is titled, “Community Tree”. For my artistic piece, I decided to create a tree on a SolidWorks – one of the many engineering CAD programs that help us build and model structures. I used this software because we have to use building blocks and steps when creating different models- much in the same way we solve math problems. I decided to build a tree because much like the tree diagrams that we have been using, they help us connect ideas. A tree has branches that connect it to its many leaves- a community made up of individual people. My collage has different views of the same tree because although we all look at the same problem, our perspective isn’t always the same. Sometimes we have different perspectives and different ideas, but when we put them together, we can come together to solve a problem. Trees symbolize life and growth, just how we grow together as a community learning math.”

– Melissa Lepe

Hailey Godinez, Villa Student

“When I think of Math CEO I think of friends, family, and more. I love that my mentors are funny, they use filters. They also make each lesson worth while and encourage us to come.  They even made example binary, we learned about binary today. Wenxi and Dylan said ¨Hot coffee of frozen smoothie¨ and ¨Cats or dogs¨ or ¨Will the sunrise?¨. So when I think of Math CEO I think of memories yet to come and past memories with them. So to my mentors Wenxi, Dylan and Erin, thanks for making me wanting to come to math CEO and making me feel welcomed and teaching me math that I needed when other people wouldn’t.”

– Hailey Godinez

Lauren Tello, Carr Student

Bryan Leon, Lathrop Student

Suyami Bermudez, Lathrop Student

Andrea Ruiz, UCI Mentor

Viviana Toral, McFadden Student

Destiny, Lathrop Room Leader

John David Mendoza, UCI mentor

Joshua Silva, UCI Mentor

Joshua Alegria, Carr Student

See what people think of our amazing program



Did you know that UCI is everything to me? UCI is a very amazing place to learn math. They influence us to try hard math and not to give up. UCI wants us to know that we can do amazing things in life. I can imagine a million moments that I can never forget. UCI is like my second home. […] They helped me understand that I can do hard math problems even if I think I can’t. We can do anything we want as long as I tried. UCI also influenced me to go to college because I see all different type of people who are hungry for learning and I want to become one of them. [….] Without math, I won’t be able to know how to solve problems, and I won’t find a good job because every job wants people to know math. The most memorable moment that I had in UCI was when my whole entire group finished the packet after thirty minutes. We were all proud of ourselves and proud that we all can do anything if we put our minds to it.


UCI math has influenced me in a way that I have been growing and growing in my Mathematics. It has helped my MAP score go off the charts. I am so glad I made the smart choice to go. My future career is business, so that will help me because business usually involves lots of money. It can also help me with mortgages and buying a house. What I am saying is you need Math for all kinds of situations. What was the most memorable moment for me was when I got to take the whole day in UCI it was the funniest thing I have done so far.


The way the UCI math club has influenced me is that math will never get easier, but if you keep trying and trying it won’t feel hard at all. One thing that they taught me was that the way to do good in math is that you can’t let other people do the work for and you just pretend to understand it. […] They also help understand that math is used in every job from making a dress or building a robot. They made a power point every meeting we went there. It told what job it was and what it did. Then it would say the required of skill or degree it would take to become this particular job.


Have you ever been to a math program where you do more than just learn math? UCI Math Club is the best. It is such an amazing place. UCI helped me so much. It has influenced me to learn more about math, to keep going to school and to get a college degree. It taught me how to work with others and help others. Going to UCI also will help me with my future career, because I want to be a construction worker and because we use math every day. I saw a career presentation that talks about Urban Designer and I could notice how much math they need! When you go to UCI you get to meet professors and students from UCI, they become your friends and we have a great time learning math. […] While learning you are having fun, awesome no?


I’ll be honest with you, in the beginning, I thought it would just be a small club. When I walked into the room, I noticed there were a whole lot more people that loved math.


Going to math CEO I was able to interact with people while social distancing at the same time. I had been having difficulties talking to people that are close to me since I stopped talking to other people in person but with math CEO I was able to relearn some things and discover other things I had found a way to talk to different people about math which is my favorite essential subject and not about how I  just stay at home overall I had a great time. Everyone was very understanding and very cheerful. We did math while having fun which is not something anyone can do.


[About UCI Latino students sharing their stories…] They are all children of low-income immigrants and they are demonstrating than it is not true that if you come from low-income families then you cannot make your dreams come true. On the contrary, one can.

[What is the most important message you bring home?] Although I do not have the money, now I know, it is possible that my child go to college.

[About UCI Latino students sharing their stories…] To be honest, their stories gave me a lot of energy to get ahead with my children and support them more for their future.

[What is the most important message you bring home?] Education is very important and it is possible if children and parents work together.


UCI Math CEO has touched and changed lives of numerous Lathrop students. I met Jocelyne the first day she started 6th grade. She was very shy and told me she could not do math. She was very sweet, but very insecure. Jocelyne joined UCI Math CEO without knowing that her life would be changed forever. Every Wednesday she went to UCI she was excited and started trusting herself. She worked hard, collaborated in groups, and little by little her confidence and knowledge grew. When Juan got scared and cried, he said he would stay in the club, but only if he could be in Jocelyne’s group. WOW! The little shy girl provided support for a boy whose math level and confidence were much higher than her. This year as a seventh grader, Jocelyne was placed in Math Honors class. The placement in the highest level math class made her mom and her extremely happy and her mom’s face was shining as she told me thank you for all that was provided to her daughter the previous year. A week ago Jocelyne walked in my classroom and looked worried. It turned out she needs braces, but the only time her mom can take her to the orthodontist is on Wednesdays during the UCI Math Club. She knows she needs braces, but she also wants to make sure she stays in the club. I had to assure her that she can still actively participate in the club while getting her braces. It is great that the club also meets on Thursdays this year, so when Jocelyne has a dentist appointment, she will not miss on her UCI experience.

The UCI Math CEO mentors include a number of first and second generation Latino undergraduate and graduate students who shared very similar backgrounds with my students and parents. Through interactions with these UCI students, our parents learned that where somebody comes from does not determine what they can do with their lives. Before the past school year, they never dreamed that their children would someday attend college. Through this UCI Math CEO program, parents learned not only that their children can go to college, but also became determined that their children shall go to college.

[The STEM focused field trip to UCI has received very positive feedback from students, parents and teachers alike.] Thank you for organizing a very memorable day [meaning the daylong field trip to the UC Irvine campus] for our students and parents. Lives of our students will never be the same. They cannot stop talking about the trip. Students enjoyed lectures and got to see math from a very different perspective. They also got an idea what going to college means, and parents were very happy to learn that their low income is not an obstacle on the path of getting excellent education.


Dear Dr. Pantano, I would like to thank you for the opportunity to be part of this amazing program. It has been a very rewarding experience, and I truly enjoy it. I am looking forward to the next quarter when we resume our Math CEO meetings. Reflecting on the program… I wouldn’t be honest if I say it is easy to teach middle school students. Getting their attention and keeping them focused on the task is a challenge by itself. I understand that they are coming after their school day and are tired already and I do everything (sometimes even use humor) to make sure they don’t feel overwhelmed but see our meetings as a fun math activity rather than studying. Also, working on the problems without giving away the answers and too many hints requires another set of skills. I really enjoy asking them guiding questions that lead to answers. At the end, seeing the excitement on their faces when they find the solution to the problem makes all my efforts worthwhile. I believe I am making a difference in their life by instilling confidence that they can achieve any goal they set before themselves. During the break, when we have a presentation on careers, I always ask my students what they see themselves doing after high school and I encourage them to go for it. I want to see Math CEO grow and prosper, including more schools and having more volunteers, as it has a noble goal of giving disadvantageous kids the confidence that they can go to college and become any professional they choose.

I have worked as a tutor and a teaching assistant, but I think that being a MATH CEO mentor has added valuable contribution to my goal of becoming a teacher. I get to explore working with middle school students, whose personalities and skills can be very difficult to gauge. The coordinators of the program were extremely nice and professional. I recommend this awesome program (flexible yet structured) to anybody who plans on working with kids at the middle school level prior to enrolling in a credential program… or even after completing the credential program.

I joined Math CEO during Fall Quarter 2015 when I saw the email from the School of Education. I really wanted a chance to teach math to students, because it is one of my favorite subjects. Of course, it had been 3 years since I had done any math, and all I did was teach my freshman friends calculus. When I first came in to tutor, I was scared; there was no telling what it would be like for me to work with middle schoolers. The questions were difficult and I spent hours in the night trying to find the best way to explain the material, but implementing those explanations was much more difficult than I had ever imagined. That very first meeting changed everything for me about my teaching methods and motivation. I’ve come to every tutoring session ever since to learn more about myself and to help these students get ready for college. My favorite moment so far was when I came into the wrong room for tutoring, and some of the seventh graders shouted over to me to be their tutor. I told them I wasn’t scheduled for the room that day, and I left to my assigned room. We only meet once a week which makes me sad, because that moment meant a lot to me. I feel like I made a connection with these kids and maybe inspire them to do better in math.

I was surprised about the content of Math CEO. When I first found out about it, I thought it was just an
opportunity to teach kids and gain insight as to what the profession is. Now, I can see it’s all of this and
much more: it’s a way to find a safe community to support and to get support, and it’s a way to give
students a chance to learn and strive academically.

Every time I participate in MathCEO I have a great time! The teaching experience is amazing, the kids are amazing, the the MathCEO team is amazing! It is so great to do something fun and rewarding. I love working with MathCEO because I know the students are learning math and that they are all capable of such greatness! I can’t wait to participate this coming quarter!