GENERAL EXPERIENCE: As an undergraduate student at Florida International University, I often found myself tutoring my study groups in several subject areas, from Biochemistry to advanced Calculus, which greatly helped my performance in each class. By my senior year, I obtained a teaching assistantship for a graduate level class on Computational Modeling of Cellular Systems, which was a challenging course that combined advanced math and cell biology. I was the first ever undergraduate student to teach a graduate course in my department. As a doctoral student at UC Berkeley, I assisted in teaching as well as in curriculum development of several Bioengineering and Physics courses (undergraduate and graduate levels) for engineering and science students, many of whom were freshmen and sophomores. In my thesis research laboratory, I mentored many small groups of undergraduate and graduate students on hands-on techniques as well as designing and performing experiments with minimal supervision. I also participated in several undergraduate and graduate student mentoring programs at UC Berkeley, which included group seminar presentations as well as one-on-one tutoring sessions of students from science and engineering majors, including minority students. I actually co-founded the Bioengineering Advising Representatives Program in the Bioengineering department at UC Berkeley with the goal of coaching undergraduate students interested in graduate school how to best prepare for the application process and the challenges faced as they pursue advanced degrees. This is my way of paying it forward all the tutoring and advice I received as an undergraduate during my tenure in as a Ronald E. McNair Scholar, which was undoubtedly the program that changed my academic career path towards the doctorate degree and helped me get where I am today.
APPROACH TO TUTORING: There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to learning. Different students will respond better to one style of teaching versus another. My job as a tutor is to find out what teaching style or presentation will make my student comprehend the subject at hand better. First, I try to find out what sparks the interest in the student and then try to relate the subject matter that he or she has difficult with to that interesting topic. For instance, if the student enjoys listening to and writing songs but has a really hard time with a mathematical concept, I would compose a catchy song that would explain it to the student and help him or her remember it. Another approach is to use clever acronyms or phrases as mnemonics tools. Of course, I do not impose one approach or the other on the student. I adapt to each student’s needs. I want to learn from my students as much as they want to learn from me. This is a two-way process. Luckily, I had the opportunity to work one-on-one with many students throughout my graduate school career, be it during office hours or mentorship programs, each with their own unique learning styles, and so I have learned to quickly pick up the most efficient way to approach the subject or concept they are currently struggling with. And my ultimate goal is for them to know that subject or concept not just for the next test, but for life.
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