### Abstract:

Roughly half of students entering college as STEM majors fail to earn a STEM degree, and the number of STEM degree-holders is not enough to meet projected STEM employment. Many STEM students begin college in a remediated classroom and face challenges due to both remediation and STEM coursework. This study follows eight individuals who began in a remediated math class in college, and who were enrolled in, or had already completed, a graduate math program at the time of this study. Commonalities in their reasons for persistence are investigated. Four themes emerged from the data: (1) Participants either demonstrated early determination (i.e. before College Algebra) or fell into a math degree much later (i.e. Calculus or later) due to circumstances which kept them in the STEM pipeline; (2) review of early math materials due to remedial placement was critical to persistence in the field; (3) support systems including family, friends, cohorts (e.g. study groups), and faculty were vital to persistence; and (4) early math jobs provided repeated exposure to foundational math material and helped students to persist in later math classes.