Senior Stories: Elizabeth Hai: From music to math

Elizabeth Hai spent her years at GW pursuing a major in music. Now, she’s going to be a teacher. A math teacher.

Confused? She’s not. Hai, who was a member of GW’s Latin band, spent a year abroad studying Portuguese music, and wrote a musical for her Senior Capstone project, says her passions are very much related.

“There’s a lot of math involved in music . musical thinking is so similar to the thinking you need to do math.”

Working with children was also something Hai – who will also graduate with a minor in statistics – has always had an interest in. After high school graduation, Hai spent two years in the Czech Republic working at a nonprofit international school. Once she came to GW as a freshman, she continued her work with children, working at the preschool across from Thurston Hall.

Hai’s interest in teaching children also translated into her academic work. The musical she wrote for her Senior Capstone was made for children, based on the story of Scheherazade and the 1001 Arabian Nights.

“I had been focusing a lot of my energy on composition and I’ve been working with children for a long time . so I wanted to combine that with my passion for music,” Hai said.

For this musical, Hai changed around the basics of some of the characters, adapting it for her own purposes and giving it “an absurd comedic take,” she said. And of course, she had to write the lyrics – one song per week.

But for her career after GW, Hai will explore the path set out for her by her minor. Enrolling in a program called New York City Teaching Fellows, she will teach middle or high school-level math at a low-income school.

Though she will be spending her coming years working as a math teacher, Hai does see herself gravitating back towards music in the future.

“There is so much power in music and I want to explore that and do something with it.”

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