Pelham Bay student awarded $100G math prize

Michael McDonald

For Michael McDonald, a Bachelor of Science degree from City College plus a Math for America fellowship equals the achievement of his long time goal to be a math teacher.

When McDonald, 22, first started college, he wanted to study architecture, but soon switched to mathematics education.

“I entered into CCNY as an architecture major under full scholarship in the Honors Program,” he said. “Soon after, I decided to make the switch to math education.”

With his fellowship, he’ll be teaching middle school students.

“My certification will be for grades seven through 12,” he said. “After student teaching and splitting my time between seventh and tenth grades, I don’t mind either way.”

Born and raised in Pelham Bay, McDonald said he has always had a strong background in education, as his mother works in education assisting students with special needs, and his father was the school board president for District 8 while he was in middle school.

“My education was always very important to them,” McDonald said. “I was born and raised in the Bronx and I plan to stay within the borough when I begin teaching. I love the Bronx and I want to give back to the community that has done so much for me as I have grown up from a boy to a man.”

The recent City College grad said after doing some private tutoring, he found the experience so rewarding he decided to bring his enthusiasm for math to the classroom.

As he moved toward a BS degree in mathematics with a concentration in secondary education, he set his sights on a Math for America Fellowship worth $100,000.

“I was encouraged by several people, including a current Math for America Fellow, to apply to the Math for America Fellowship Program,” McDonald said. “I was very happy to find out that I was accepted into the program and that the program became exclusively partnered with CCNY. I love the campus and I have had it become practically a second home to me. Choosing CCNY was the best decision I made when it came to my education.”

Math for America is a privately funded nonprofit that operates in seven U.S. cities.

The nonprofit teamed up with CCNY to design a three-semester master’s program for mathematics students.

The highly competitive five-year program is for mathematics students who commit to teaching in New York City’s public secondary schools.

McDonald was one of 22 chosen New York City Math for America Fellows.

“I feel lucky to have been chosen.”

The Fellows will receive full-tuition for a master’s degree in secondary mathematics education at City College of New York, with a $30,000 stipend in the first year and $70,000 total over the next four years, while also earning a teacher’s salary.

Kirsten Sanchez can be reach via e-mail at or by phone at (718) 742-3394

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