Math is embedded in the DNA of Dr. Nkechi M. Agwu. Her father was an economist and her mother was a mathematics teacher, and while she felt no pressure to follow in their footsteps, she ultimately found that she shared their passion. After decades of professional excellence, Dr. Agwu is renowned as an expert in ethno-mathematics, the history of mathematics, math and statistics education and curriculum, assessment development, gender studies and multicultural education.
Over the course of her nearly 30-year career, Dr. Agwu has taught in both Nigeria and the United States, with 20 of those years at the Borough of Manhattan Community College of the City of New York. She continues to work at the school as a professor and former director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching, Learning, and Scholarship to this day. Additionally, Dr. Agwu has accrued experience through teaching assistantships at the University of Connecticut and Syracuse University, and as an educational consultant for the Algebra Project and New Visions for Public Schools in New York City. In Nigeria, she served as a lecturer at Kaduna Polytechnic in Kaduna, and as a statistician at the Federal Office of Statistics in Enugu.
Both Dr. Agwu and the American Association of University Women are part of a much publicized effort to increase female participation in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. She is passionate about supporting the process of bringing more girls in the sciences up to the leadership level. It is rare to see Nigerian women in top leadership positions in the university system in Nigeria, and she wants them to know they are capable of being leaders. One of the issues facing her profession, she says, is reaching women and showing them that they can excel in math and science.
Dr. Agwu is the author of “Using a Threaded Discussion Web-based Software to Teach Statistics,” and “God’s Own: The Genesis of Mathematical Story-Telling.” She is also the editor of “Mathematics in College,” and “The Grace of Dr. Mrs. Mojisola Olayinka Edema: A Visionary and a Reformer.” Furthermore, Dr. Agwu has written numerous articles on the advocacy to increase female participation in STEM. Dr. Agwu is currently interested in gender, class, cultural equity issues in education, the mathematical story-telling of African women leaders in STEM-related fields, and the indigenous mathematical, scientific and technological knowledge of cultural groups in Africa. She is a founder of Chi STEM Toys Inc., a non-governmental organization through which she facilitates these interests globally.
In recognition of her achievements and accomplishments, Dr. Agwu has earned numerous prestigious accolades. She was named to Project Kaleidoscope Faculty for the Twenty-First Century Class of 1997, and was the recipient of the New York City Literacy Assistance Center and Professional Development Consortium mini-grant. Dr. Agwu also received the National Graduate Student Dissertation Travel Award, the American Educational Research Association Division K Award, the International Conference on Technology in Collegiate Mathematics Travel Award, the Nigerian Federal Government Merit Award, and the American Mathematics Association Two-Year Colleges INPUT Award. She is presently a member of the International Biographical Association, the American Mathematical Association of Two Year Colleges, and the Mathematics Association of America.
Dr. Agwu prepared for her endeavors by earning a Bachelor of Science with honors from the University of Nigeria in Nsukka in 1984, a Master of Science from the University of Connecticut in 1989, and a PhD from Syracuse University in 1995. She was also a Fulbright Fellow in 2004, and a Carnegie African Diaspora Fellow in 2014 and 2017.