GoodHeart | J’can mathlete excels - Kayla Wright eager to compete internationally
Kayla Wright, Jamaica’s top Mathematical Olympiad awardee for 2022/23, is excited about representing our island at the international competition, which will be held in El Salvador between July 2 and 13.
Kayla, a grade-11 student of Campion College, presented the best solution during the local competition, which was held in a series at The University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona between 2022 and 2023, and organised by the University’s Department of Mathematics.
The announcement of her victory was made during an awards ceremony inside UWI’s Assembly Hall.
In addition to copping the top prize for Best Solution, Kayla placed first from the pool of grade-11 students who were shortlisted for the final round of the competition.
This victory is something she is excited about, especially due to the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic delayed her participation as the competition was suspended and resumed for the 2022/23 academic year.
Kayla also entered the competition on the verge of the pandemic while in grade eight, but with the spike back then with infections and restrictions under the Disaster Risk Management Act (DRMA), the competition was cut short.
“I’m excited. When I was doing the questions I was just trying to think of what [the questions would have] derived [from], because the questions weren’t being asked in a way that I’m used to them being asked in school. You couldn’t see which method to use. You had to think through the questions,” Kayla, who had to do a series of mathematics tests as part of the competition, told The Gleaner.
“I remember one of them in particular, where there was a triangle in a triangle and it was weirdly shaped, so you had to think things like cosine rule and sine rule. I remember that [happening] like 10 minutes left before I was to figure out what I’m supposed to do,” she said before smiling.
No stranger to the mathematical-based competition, she also participated in the Junior Mathematical Olympiad while attending St Hugh’s Preparatory School.
Kayla is currently sitting Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate English language, mathematics, English literature, information technology, biology, chemistry, physics, principles of accounts, principles of business and advance mathematics.
She hopes to become a doctor like her mother, Dr Marilyn Lawrence Wright, in the future.
“I think I want to be a doctor because I enjoy helping people and I also find the sciences very interesting, so I think that would be a good fit for me,” Kayla said.
Dr Lawrence Wright told The Gleaner that she and her husband, Stefan Wright, are elated about their daughter’s achievement.
“I’m really really very excited and thankful. She’s brilliant. She works hard. She is God-fearing and she really likes mathematics, so it’s really great to see her have this great achievement today.”
Dr Lawrence Wright’s son, Chad Wright, who is a grade-nine student at Campion College, placed second in the grade-nine category of the Jamaican Mathematical Olympiad for 2022/23.
Kayla ‘s next move is to become enrolled in sixth form at Campion College.
Dr Sam McDaniel, the Olympiad academic coordinator, said the return of the Olympiad this year was only made possible through sponsors, such as New Fortress Energy.
“The junior competition started with 2,294 entities. The senior version started with 492 entries. For the first round, we had 1,880 students representing 111 schools. If you were here you would [have] seen the expression on the faces of our students. It was awesome,” McDaniel said.
“For the junior, we invited 700 students for the final round, and today’s awardees are here from the final round … then 78 students,” he said.
He also noted that Jamaica has been participating at the international level since April 2010 and Jamaica is the only English-speaking country in the Caribbean that has repeated entries since then.