I met Nicole Carrillo last year when I reached out to my university’s scholarship center for advice on an application I was working on. She was so patient, friendly, knowledgeable, and professional that I suggested she sign up to become an Acakid tutor. Today, I am proud to present her as our October Tutor of the Month! Below is our interview with Nicole:
- What is your educational background?
I am a chemistry major, biochemistry minor at W&M. I am a WMSURE and Beckman Scholar as well.
- How long have you been tutoring outside of Acakid and with Acakid?
I joined Acakid roughly a year ago, but have been helping students with scholarship applications since my freshman year of college.
- What are your strengths as a tutor?
I think the ability to recognize what style of learning works best for each student is a strength of mine. I take a different approach with each student to make sure that I am using their strengths to make learning the material a manageable challenge. I also believe that constant positive encouragement has been beneficial for my sessions. As students gain more confidence, they are more willing to participate and take more away from the lesson.
- How have you grown as a tutor over the years?
I myself have gained confidence. When I began helping students as a freshman, I was unsure that the advice I was providing to students, who were sometimes older than me, was helpful. However, I realized that each person I assisted with scholarship applications walked away feeling like our session was productive and beneficial. With this newfound confidence, I grew to love tutoring even more. I especially enjoy when students I worked with end up achieving the goal or winning the scholarship they worked so hard for.
- What do you work on with your students?
As I usually teach STEM subjects, I try to help my students work on pattern recognition. Math and science are full of patterns, so I try to teach them how to identify what type of problem they are faced with so they can then apply the systematic steps necessary to solve it. This usually involves many repetitions of similar problems and making sure to draw the connections between each one, in order to simplify the subject and make problem solving less daunting.
- What are their goals and how are you working on accomplishing them?
Most often, their goals are to understand the subject better. This is usually because the way that they are learning the subject in school is not optimized to their individual learning style. We accomplish their goals together through hard work on both ends. I ask my students to be prepared with a goal or subject they want to tackle for the session, and sometimes leave them with a problem to finish after our meeting. I make sure to analyze the subject areas in which the students seem weak and find ways that I can supplement that, all while fostering an engaging and friendly environment. I try to come across as a helpful friend as opposed to strict teacher.
- When have you been extremely proud of your students?
I am proud of all of my students for the hard work they have put in, but one in particular impressed me. He sought out a tutor for math after obtaining failing grades in the first half of the course. When I started tutoring him, it was clear he was engaged and hard working, but the content wasn’t sticking in his brain. We met several times a week, and I would make sure he understood all of the notes before moving on to practice problems. He asked great questions and was always engaged. Before long, we met fewer and fewer times a week because he went from failing grades to straight A’s on his assessments. I was immensely proud, and so was he.
- What do you enjoy about working with Acakid?
I enjoy that Acakid allows us to make our own decisions about teaching style and which subjects we teach. I believe this creates a more organic and productive environment as opposed to feeling restricted on how sessions must be led. In the end, both the students and the tutors benefit from this system.
- What are your hobbies and passions outside of Acakid?
Outside of tutoring, I spend a lot of time working in my chemistry research lab. I love chemistry, and will go to grad school to continue my studies! In my free time, I am big soccer fan, volunteer at the animal shelter, and love to cook!