I was born in San Jose, but my parents whisked me away at the age of three to the Santa Cruz mountains. I went to high school in Los Gatos and decided to attend the University of Chicago. In Chicago, living in neighborhoods very different than those of my upbringing and focusing on LGBT communities for my major in sociology, I developed an understanding of the great diversity of experiences and backgrounds that has since been fundamental to my approach in education. Each person learns differently, understands the world differently, and as much as possible I am interested in finding connections within those differences and using them to deepen both their knowledge and mine.
My first quarter in college I struggled in a calculus class that was way above my head and discovered the benefits of mutual assistance in study groups, which I used throughout my time in college. Since then, I have worked at two tutoring centers helping students in a range of subjects including English, history, and math. I’ve learned over the years that the more patient and empathetic I can be with my students, the more I can help them and the more they can help themselves when it comes time for them to go out into the world. I’ve found it endlessly interesting and rewarding in my time tutoring to try to see the world through the eyes of other people. If I can be empathetic to their experience, I have a hook that I can use to help explain why I think something is important or useful. In college, one of my friends dubbed me a mountain goat for my ability to get on top of a problem and see it in a way that helped other people understand what was salient to our subject of discussion. In tutoring, I’ve found the same skill useful as a way to gauge what students’ difficulties are and how I can help the student to overcome them.
I moved back home from Chicago after graduating college and working with the art history department for a year. A friend of mine helped me find my first tutoring job. While I always enjoyed working with the middle and high school students I encountered, I found that what I really loved was to see the spark of new-found interest and understanding in students, and that’s what has kept me passionate about education. I want to see students succeed and to enrich their lives by inculcating a wide-ranging curiosity about the world in them which will serve them wherever they go.
My interest in English started young; I was always an avid reader as a child and teen, and much of my time for electives in college was spent on what was called Fundamentals at University of Chicago: deep dive classes on a single book or author which probed the inexhaustible depths of analysis and interpretation. My fascination has always been with the ability of literature to conjure those depths with remarkable economy, and the way literature can deepen one’s own understanding of themselves and others through itself. When students come to me with poetry, especially, they often feel that what they read is opaque or meaningless – a conglomeration of parts jumbled together: rhyme, meter, imagery and so on. When we work through a poem line by line, the student is able to truly understand the poem, not as a jumble, but as an intricate, coherent relation of parts.
In addition to English, I enjoy coaching students on standardized tests such as the SAT and ACT. I was fortunate enough to have developed through my education the skills I needed to succeed in standardized testing. I believe in education as a balm to many problems, and want as many students as possible to be given an education that opens up possibilities in college and beyond. Whether I’m coaching the reading and writing sections or helping students solidify their understanding of essential math concepts, I enjoy helping them understand the demands of the test and navigate it effectively.
Outside of work I spend time painting as a way to justify my art minor—its fascinations are the same as those of literature: I can communicate in a few marks an experience that is personal and universal. I also hike in my spare time to return to the nature that I grew up with, and read as widely as I can in philosophy and literature to encounter the thoughts and counsel of others.