Matthew CostaMatthew Costa

By Pamela Dean

Matthew Costa’s mother inspired him to study math – she was the first in her family and the only one of six children to attend college. Even more impressive – she attained her computer science degree in the 1970’s.

Costa received his BS and MS in Mathematics from CSUCI in 2017 and 2019 respectively.

“Math is the only subject I ever really liked and was halfway decent at,” Costa explains. “Math is found everywhere, so there are lots of job possibilities.”

Costa is currently a civilian mathematician working for the weather forecasting team at Naval Air Systems Command in Ventura County. He is also a part-time lecturer at Oxnard Community College.

“Many students at Oxnard College hold down full-time jobs and take night classes so they can better their careers and the lives of their families. That is something I want to be a part of,” Costa says. “When I was in community college I was working full time as well, so I identify with these students and want to help them succeed. I also had a great professor when I was in community college. I was on the road to failing his class, but then started going to his office hours and made a 180-degree turn in my attitude. I want to be like him for my students. I just feel so lucky to have had great instructors around me. I want to be a great instructor for my students.”

While at CSUCI, Costa volunteered as a math tutor for Schools on Wheels, a nonprofit dedicated to tutoring children experiencing homelessness in California.

“It was a great experience. It’s the kind of job where you are there to teach them, but at the end of the day, they are the ones teaching you about life. It’s really inspiring to see their positive outlook on life. My first student became the first in his family to graduate high school. I still talk to him and he's going to Ventura College now.”

“I bought a bunch of books for my second student. She looked at me and said, ‘you bought these for me? Why?’ I hope she remembers those books for the rest of her life and they remind her people believe in her. I learned it is little moments like that, especially in young children, that can shape their self-esteem for the rest of their life.”

Costa has a slew of plans for the future including possibly pursuing a Ph.D. in oceanography and becoming a high school teacher, continuing to do volunteer work and hopefully even start his own organization that improves the education system at the high school level.

His advice to undergrads hoping to pursue a career in math: “Network, get internships and consider grad school. Keep working hard, it will pay off.”

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