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Learning Center tutors enjoy success while helping others

May 26, 2020

Troy University tutors who took the time to mentor their peers in academics are seeing the fruits of their labor pay off as they graduate.

Located in the John W. Schmidt Center for Student Success, the Learning Center provides valuable tutoring and mentorship services to students in need by connecting them with fellow students who are experts in a given field.

But beyond helping students with academic needs, the Learning Center has also proven beneficial to the tutors who are investing their time as they prepare for their own career journeys.

Meet Patel, a recent TROY graduate, will be a student at the University of Kentucky this fall with a full scholarship as he pursues a Ph.D. in biology.

He began tutoring students as a freshman, but landed a paid tutoring position as a sophomore.

“It was phenomenal,” Patel said. “I have enjoyed tutoring because it provides a sense of satisfaction after being able to help a learner through a difficult subject. The experience extends further as we see a learner visit us again for tutoring.”

Alex Mote began tutoring students in chemistry during his freshman year, and as he prepares for a career in the Air Force, he looks back on his Learning Center experience as particularly important.

“It was one of the best decisions I made,” said Mote, who is preparing for flight school. “The most rewarding part of my job was seeing a smile from someone who finally understood something and/or having someone find interest in chemistry. While it helped me stay fresh on my skills and network with hundreds of students, the biggest benefit was the social and leadership skills. Listening before talking, empathy and being someone that these stressed students can talk to allowed me to see two sides to a story.”

Ty Naquin, a recent graduate who tutored students in physics, has been accepted on a full-ride scholarship to the Ph.D. program in physics at the University of Chicago.

“It was always rewarding to help students understand a concept they were struggling with,” he said. “It was also a unique opportunity to see all the different ways students approach their schoolwork. I learned a lot myself from the creativity of those I tutored. The job also forced me to keep up with my basic physics knowledge, which helped me perform well on the tests I had to take to get into graduate school.”

Learning Center tutors from 2019-20
Learning Center tutors from 2019-20.

For the tutors, the experience often challenges them to expand their ways of thinking.

Aashish Kafle, who has earned a full scholarship to the Ph.D. program in physics at Penn State University, thrived on seeing other students grasp new concepts.

“It was amazing. There were students from a wide range of fields — some had good experience with math and physics, while others had none,” Kafle said. “A single way of explaining things was never enough. Helping students understand the underlying concepts was very rewarding. Tackling students with no prior experience into these subjects’ matters was more fun, because I could teach them in a way that my experience tells me is the best one for a novice.”

The skills he used as a tutor helped ready him for his future pursuits.

“Seeing how undergraduate students do with math and physics classes is very crucial knowledge to anyone who aspires to be in the academia,” Kafle said. “As I plan to stick to the research and teaching role after my graduate studies, the experience I have gained here has helped me get a firsthand sight of the struggle students have. Often, as a tutor you are expected to know of multiple ways of tackling problems. I’m very thankful for the job for the type of exposure it gave me to students and that it encouraged me to think in varied ways.”

Patel credits the Learning Center staff and Troy University for giving him vital preparation for his future goals as well.

“I am currently a Ph.D. candidate and I am offered a teaching assistantship,” he said. “I believe having tutored undergraduate students for multiple hours would further allow me to now teach labs at a bigger university. The experience has made me learn and appreciate the relationship between a mentor and their students. I am glad to be able to say that I am prepared for a much more rigorous task of teaching assistantship. I wouldn’t be as confident without my tutoring experience at TROY, and I wouldn’t be where I am without my supervisors. Lastly, I am extremely grateful for Dr. Robert Sheppard and Ms. Patricia Harris for training me.”

The Learning Center helps students find the skills they need to succeed in class, but it also helps prepare those teaching them for a successful future.

“The heart and soul of effective tutoring is a relationship based on trust,” said Dr. Hal Fulmer, Associate Provost and Dean of Undergraduate and First Year Studies. “Students who come to our Learning Center, whether in person or online, find that they can trust our tutors. The tutors are well-trained, knowledgeable and caring. They seek to understand a student’s needs in a holistic way and not just in terms of particular class content. Our tutors are a key part of our success efforts in the John W. Schmidt Center. They are on the front lines for us in helping their fellow students to retain, progress and graduate from Troy University.”