Getting to Know You - with Lia Del Priore-Smith
When Lia Del Priore-Smith came to the U on a full-tuition scholarship for gymnastics, she never thought her goal of becoming a physician assistant would change to teach high school math.
Del Priore-Smith, a senior majoring in education and mathematics and a member of the women’s gymnastics team, always planned on attending physician assistant school until she began tutoring her friends and teammates. She enjoyed seeing their success and felt she could explain math in simple terms.
“The more I tutored, the more I saw a pattern of gaps in the educational math system,” Del Priore-Smith said. “I want to be an advocate for change to help teach students how to think critically about math-related problems.”
Del Priore-Smith noticed in her tutoring that much of the difficulty in math stemmed from experiences with poor teachers. She said too many doors are being closed for students because of their experiences in high school.
As a future math teacher, Del Priore-Smith hopes she can empathize with students and show them the reward of persevering through hard things. Although math in high school came easy to her, she remembers the struggle as she moved away from learning formulas in high school to proving the formulas in college.
In February 2013, Del Priore-Smith received a perfect 10.0 in her floor routine during Utah’s win against Stanford at a gymnastics meet. The experiences Del Priore-Smith has had in gymnastics, she said, have taught her many of the traits she hopes to share with high school students—discipline, time management, teamwork, and leadership.
Del Priore-Smith has been a gymnast since she was five years old and was homeschooled in middle school to spend 35 hours per week training. Through gymnastics she also learned that failure is a part of life.
Emina Alibegovic, associate professor of mathematics, said Del Priore-Smith is an exceptional student that has shown nothing but amazing effort and great results in her classes.
“I was impressed that she is just as driven academically as she is on the gymnastics floor,” Alibegovic said. “Lia is working hard on becoming a mathematics teacher we all want for our children, and there is no doubt in my mind that she will succeed.”
(Photo Credit: University of Utah)