Kayla LaFrance is a rocket scientist from Spokane, Washington who won season two of TBS’ King of the Nerds. She defeated Jack Hou in the final gauntlet of nerdy challenges. Her run to the Throne of Games was fueled, in part, by the words of Captain Janeway of Star Trek: Voyager. In her spare time, she plays ice hockey and is a Trekkie…Trekker…um, Star Trek fan.
In this brief email interview, Kayla discusses being Nicole’s “bad ass twin,” her advice on improving America’s math skills, and meeting Kate Mulgrew, and more.
Red-Headed Mule: I spoke to fellow contestant Nicole and she said you two were “twins.” What was your favorite moment with her?
Kayla LaFrance: Nicole and I started calling each other the “bad ass twins.” We both connected over many similar loves including our love of physical sports. I would have to say that our favorite pass time while at Nerdvana was playing Burnout on the PlayStation. It was always a challenge to see who can get the most hits on the Road Rage challenges.
RHM: Last season’s winner, Celeste Anderson, is a gamer and I know you don’t like video games. What would be your strategy in a thumb wrestling contest against her? (Sorry, I couldn’t think of any single contest that wouldn’t give a great advantage toward each other.)
KL: I do play a few video games. I play maybe once a week. Racing games, DCUO, and the Arkham series are all that I own. But yeah, gaming is not my specialty. I have no clue about a strategy though, especially for thumb wrestling. I hope when I do have a chance to meet Celeste we have something else to occupy our time with.
RHM: Have you met Kate Mulgrew, and if so, how was she?
KL: I have had the opportunity to meet Kate Mulgrew a few times in the past few years. Every time has been an absolute thrill. Mulgrew is an amazing woman who is very supportive of young women in the sciences. Mulgrew knows that her time spent as Captain Janeway made a huge impact on a lot of girls who grew up to be scientists and she really does take time to meet and talk with these girls.
My first chance to meet Mulgrew, was at DragonCon 2009. I ended up talking to her from the stage about that very subject; it was one of my greatest moments and very inspirational.
RHM: What’s your dream racing car and who would be your dream opponents?
KL: That is a hard question, what class of racing? I will be honest and say that I am not big into NASCAR at all. Now Formula One, rally racing, drag racing, drifting and the likes I do get behind. I guess If I had one chance at a dream car and race, I would want a either a ’67 GTO Judge, a ’69 Dodge Charger, or a ’70 Dodge Challenger – I will spare you from the list of engines and the mods I would do to increase the horsepower, torque and speed.
I would LOVE a chance to meet and learn from ACP – Andrew Comrie-Picard – so that is the driving I would go with.
RHM: How would you improve the math skills of American youth?
KL: There are many more ways to make math more entertaining for the students. There are ways to make it hands on and interactive in a way that the students will feel more engaged. I am not a politician nor am I a teacher.
However, from my experience, we need teachers to be trained in math activities and not just reading out of the book. Teachers need to be just as engaged as the students. Schools need the funding to train the teachers and to provide the students with the right programs and materials.
RHM: If you could make a decree for all the King of the Nerds viewers, what would it be?
KL: As corny as it may sound, I would want for everyone to follow their dreams and pursue the things that they are most passionate about.
Thanks and congratulations Kayla!