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HGTC professor combines love for sports and math

(WPDE)

You remember in math class wondering "When will I ever use this!?" ABC 15's Crystal Costa found out how math plays a role in our daily lives and how one professor turned his love for the subject into a career.

HGTC Math Professor William Clay has always had a love for STEM. "My mom and my dad encouraged my sisters and I to really focus on excelling in math and science," Clay recalled.

He even majored in math as a college student years ago, but dreamed of being a pro basketball player.

That is until he saw a sign on his chemistry professor's door about a $30,000 stipend to attend a STEM program after graduation. "That was just kind of the icing on top of the cake and so I began to go into that field," said Clay.

Now he's in his third year of teaching at HGTC. "Math makes the world go around. There's an application in every field and every profession and that's really what I try to impart on my students," said Clay.

Some of his students are interested in working in STEM-related careers.

"I've learned math is essential to computer programming," said HGTC student Dwang Bouphasavanh.

Dwang is planning to earn his Associates Degree in science, with a focus on computers. "I would like to create my own program. So to create my own program I feel like I need to understand a foundation before I can get there," he told us.

Professor Clay teaches students like Dwang who want to work in STEM careers to stay broad when it comes to enrolling in classes. He said, "You need to learn everything, because more often than not if you are in a STEM field you're going to be dealing with more than just your subject matter. The disciplines are now more than ever becoming merged into one."

Other students are taking his class to fulfill their curriculum requirements. "Maybe you're not going to become a math professor yourself, maybe you only need this class, but I care about the fact that you need this class for whatever your goal and your dream is," said Clay.

Though Clay's dreams of going pro in the sports world are in the past, he figured out a way to combine his love for basketball and math.

He works for an analytics company called Synergy, which is used on ESPN, and he and his wife have their own basketball skills academy. "The way we train all stems from the data," he said.

Clay believes an education in math helps us all critically approach and solve problems, and be better consumers. "It teaches you how to think. There's an analytical approach to math that forces people to think."

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