I have a vivid memory of me as a frustrated middle school student spending an evening at the kitchen table working on those classic word problems – “Andrew is able to kayak 6 miles per hour in still water. If the wind is blowing upstream at 2 miles per hour and the river’s current is …” But this memory wouldn’t be complete without my mom and dad sitting patiently with me, drawing picture after picture of rivers, stick figures in boats, and arrows everywhere. I am so grateful that I had someone encouraging me to work hard and persevere through a challenge. Now, I love that I can be that person to the students at Hathaway Sycamores, whether I’m tutoring fifth-graders in those exact math problems or helping a high school student with biology.
The students are now eager to joke around with me, boast of a good grade, or inform me that they absolutely need me to come the following week to help them study for a big test.
I have been tutoring through Caltech Y’s partnership with Hathaway Sycamores since the fall of 2017. In those early days, I would walk into the Learning Lab with another tutor who had been volunteering at Hathaway for years. The students would greet the other tutor with such joy and familiarity, whereas they were reluctant to work with me and hesitant to trust my help. However, one evening, after many months of consistently coming to the Learning Lab, I realized that the students were welcoming me that same excitement and enthusiastically clamoring for my attention. The students are now eager to joke around with me, boast of a good grade, or inform me that they absolutely need me to come the following week to help them study for a big test.
As the students and I work together, sometimes they will ask about my job as an engineering grad student. I try to emphasize the importance of their high school math and science classes in everyday life and in their future careers. To encourage their interest, the Caltech Y, Hathaway Sycamores, and I worked together to organize the students’ visit to Caltech, including a campus tour, lab tours, and a visit to the Mechanical Engineering machine shop. I hope that I have been able to make a lasting impact on the students by helping them build confidence in themselves and their work, because in return, they challenge me to be the very best role model possible and keep my joy of teaching alive.