Meet the Team: Vida M.

Let’s celebrate strength in the face of adversity.  It's imperative to take a moment to praise students for their persistence, no matter what challenges face them, even when it means they could fail. So let’s meet a tutor who kept trying, even when the challenges that faced her seemed insurmountable.

Meet Vida M.!

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I know you come from a family of immigrants, so I would love to hear about your experience in school as a young girl growing up in a culture so different from that of your parents.

V: Well, honestly, elementary school was really hard for me. It was a confusing time. Both of my parents immigrated from the middle east, and I went to private Catholic school. My parents wanted to send me to a school that provided the best education, but also gave it structure. But meshing two different cultures is always a task. The students there didn't really understand my beliefs or where I came from, which made things hard for me. However, once I started getting more involved in school activities the students started to realize that we were actually not so different from one another. I think it was harder for my parents, being the odd ones out since they got married so young, which goes against the social norm here in the United States. But I have one memory that stands out among the rest... It was Culture Night at school, my mom came, and I actually got to see her celebrated for her cultural differences as she taught my classmates how to belly dance. I was so embarrassed but my mom was so confident and bold in the face of diversity.

In high school I continued on into a private Catholic school. My experience there was really great, and I was actually the number one math student in my class, so they decided to bump me up into the honors class. The problem was that I hadn’t yet figured out how to study for honors classes, so my sophomore year ended up being extremely difficult for me. I was taking honors math and I was barely passing. This was actually my first brush with tutoring, only I was on the receiving end. My father tried to tutor me, but we both knew that it just wasn’t working for us. So I got a new tutor who would make me drive to her house every session. The logistics of this actually made my experience really difficult and I stopped going. So I definitely recognize the importance of the in-home service that we provide at PCH Tutors. But eventually, I was able to gain more confidence in my abilities, and I was able to grow and succeed in honors math.

Can you tell me about how your college experience unfolded after the challenges you overcame in high school?

V: That's actually a crazy story! Over the course of my college career, I ended up attending two different colleges in pursuit of my bachelor’s degree. I started my journey at UC Riverside and remained there for 2 years, participating in a Bio-Medical program. I ended up changing course a bit when my parents were going through a divorce. It made sense to be closer to home during that time, so I ended up transferring to UC Irvine. From there, I ended up graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Biology and a minor in Psychology. I took a year off after undergrad and eventually ended up at Cal State Long Beach to complete my master’s degree in Engineering.

The whole process was long but I was able to discover so much about myself. I encountered a few failures along the way, but they really helped me in the long run, and I ended up succeeding in the end.

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Throughout this journey, was there anyone who played a mentorship role for you?

V: My mentor has impacted me very deeply. She’s the head of the Engineering program at my school and her story is so inspirational. Years before she became an engineer she had been planning for a wedding. But before she walked down the aisle, she was faced with a really difficult decision. Her fiancé approached her with an ultimatum: he wouldn't marry her unless she agreed to wear traditional garb that would cover her fully, from head to toe, nor would he support their daughter. Faced with this decision, she refused to marry him. She went back to school and became top in her class in her engineering program, all while supporting her daughter on her own. Even in the face of such difficulty she was able to rise above her situation. She graduated with a master’s in engineering and now runs the engineering program at Cal State Long Beach. She actually hired me for my first engineering job. As a woman, I feel so inspired by her story. The engineering field is very male dominated, and my mentor helped me realize that I can do everything a man can do, and therefore I deserve equal treatment in my field.

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Vida’s story of adversity could have weighed her down, but she kept pushing and succeeded, both academically and socially, throughout her years in academia and beyond. Students are often faced with similar challenges, and every day they work to overcome those challenges is a day they succeed. So as parents, educators, and the like, let's all celebrate the students around us who take on these challenges every day.

Meet the Team: Hannah T.

One of our greatest assets at PCH Tutors is the diversity of our team’s background and our ability to act as a resource to the students and parents in our community. So today, come along with us to meet our superb tutor Hannah T. as she gives us an insider’s look into the Pepperdine University admission process.

This is Hannah T!

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What do you do as an admission counselor at Pepperdine?

H: We help students apply to the college and we hold workshops that help high schoolers understand how the application process works. Also, if a student turns in an application with missing information we track them down and make sure to get our hands on those missing pieces.

What aspects of the application are most important to college admissions?

It’s important to us to look at the student as a whole. We look first at the students’ academics, then we look to see if the student has a heart for the mission of our school.  and we really like to see community involvement. It’s also important for us to see someone who’s excited to further our mission as a school.

Do you have any tips for students trying to pick a college that suits them?

Make sure that you are looking beyond the name of the school. It’s crucial to do your research and try to think about what experience admissions wants to see presented in your application. Think about your vision and plan and try to find a college or university that fits within that. Also think about what kind of environment will help you become the best person you can be.

How did you decide that Pepperdine was the right fit for you?

When I visited Pepperdine I loved the community and how much the people here cared for one another. Pepperdine's professors get very involved with the students and give great mentorship, which is really important to me. I identify really strongly  with the mission and overall values of the school, and I really respect that Pepperdine has never compromised their mission or values or vision in order to attract incoming students.

What's the most crucial thing for students to remember while applying for schools?

As an admissions counselor my biggest piece of advice for students is to make sure to let your voice shine through in your application, make your sure your application really showcases your personality and what makes you, you.

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We are incredibly thankful for Hannah’s insight and time. We are also very excited for her future endeavors as she preps for her move out of California. We here at PCH Tutors are thrilled to congratulate Hannah on her engagement and we wish her the very best. Thank you Hannah for the three years you have contributed to PCH Tutors. We will miss you!

Meet the Team: Featuring Carling M.

At PCH tutors we understand that one of the most stressful decisions a student faces is deciding what to do after high school, and one of the most important things we can offer students and their families is our experience. So sit back and read this interview about how one our stellar tutors discovered her passion for mechanical engineering after obtaining a film degree.

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Meet Carling M!

Can you tell me about your experience with school growing up?

Carling: I went to a very rural high school in Vermont. And while academics came relatively easily to me, I felt I was lacking in any real engagement from the faculty. Luckily, my parents filled in where my school fell short by taking me to museums and encouraging learning in our home. My mother is an English teacher and encouraged me to always be reading something. My dad fostered in me an interest in astronomy, which led to a greater curiosity in math and science. When I graduated from high school and packed up for college, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to study. My interests tore me in so many different directions, and somehow I landed on an undergraduate degree in film. A few years in the television industry gave me enough experience to know I had made a slight misstep, so it wasn’t long before I made the decision to head back to school to pursue a master’s degree in mechanical engineering.

Why do you think you landed on film?

Carling: Growing up I was always a pretty creative person, and that was a trait that was cultivated and encouraged both in school and at home. I always loved math and science, but everyone assumed I’d go into a creative field of some kind. Perhaps because of gender norms, it was assumed that a young girl with an affinity for the arts would go into the soft sciences. So at my university I just naturally fell into the creative path that led me to film, screenwriting and producing, specifically. Writing and creative thinking always came very naturally to me, and since it wasn’t a challenge, I thought it must have been right for me. But it turns out I really like a challenge. I think people don’t often consider how much the STEM field (science, technology, engineering, and math) merges analytical thinking and creativity. It may sound strange, but it felt like a very logical transition to me.

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What advice would you give to your 18-year-old self?

Carling: I honestly think I would have benefitted from taking a gap year or studying at a community college before heading to a four-year university, in order to give myself more time to find my passions. I felt, like I think a lot of young students feel, that I had to hurry up and decide what the rest of my life was supposed to look like. That’s a lot of pressure for an 18-year-old who still has so much to learn about herself.

Do you have advice for students struggling with this decision now?

Carling: Society is going put a lot pressure on you to have it all figured out after high school, but don't succumb to that. Don’t be afraid to take some time to discover what you’re really passionate about. Some people know that they want to be a doctor before they even begin high school, but for some of us the journey is a little bit longer. I guess to sum it up: don’t be afraid of the uncertainty. Not knowing what you want to do with the rest of your life when you’re 18 is just fine. I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, but I’m having a grand time figuring it out.

How can a parent help their students in their educational plan?

Carling: I think it’s important to give students the freedom to explore their interests. I think parents can engage them by giving them opportunities to turn those interests into learning experiences.  It’s important to meet them where they are and be supportive of who they are becoming.

Carling has been working as a PCH tutor for almost a year and a half, and recently joined the PCH staff as our Business Development Manager. Carling, like all our tutors, has such an inspirational story. We want to make it clear to both students and parents that they are not alone in each academic chapter they’ll embark on in life. We at PCH Tutors hope that our experience, both academically and personally, will provide a meaningful and supportive environment in which to learn.

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Meet the Team: Featuring Emily J.

In our first featured post it is our pleasure to introduce you to one of our brilliant tutors, Emily J. Emily, like all our tutors, embodies what it means to be a lifelong learner, and impacts our community in such a great way.

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We asked her a series of questions about herself and we want to invite you all to get to know her as the outstanding tutor and person we know.

How did you feel about school when you were growing up?

Emily: Growing up I always loved school and had passion for it because of my family's influence in my life. My biggest educational influences growing up were my mother, who was a 5th grade teacher, and my sister, who evokes passion for learning every day. In school I prided myself on being a hard worker because one thing that stuck with me as I grew up was the idea that in order to succeed in education all you have to do is work for it. 

If you could give your students one piece of advice what would it be?

Emily: Never give up, and find what you're passionate about it. Go for it and you will succeeded. My dad always told me growing up, “Whether you believe you can or cannot, you can achieve anything if you set your mind to it."

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What are some hobbies or activities outside of school that have influenced who you are as a person?

Emily: Soccer was a big part of my life and it shaped me as a person. I loved it and I was passionate about the sport, but I experienced an accident that left me with a broken arm. This accident lead to me having three major surgeries and five years of recovery. I never thought I would be able to live life normally again, but the doctors and physical therapist showed me I could. They essentially helped me get my life back. Soccer helped me realize I had to work in the medical field. From there I pursued medicine and went on my first medical mission in Fiji where I volunteered at an elementary school every afternoon. I was also a participant in the Care Extender volunteer program at UCLA. I want to help people and give back to others the same way my doctors and physical therapist have done for me.

Whats the best thing about being a tutor?

Emily: The best thing about being a tutor is being able to see the frustrations of a student turn into joy and growth. To be able to see the progress of the student and to see the light bulb moment when they final get it!

How is working with PCH Tutors different than any other company you’ve worked for?

Emily: PCH tutors has given me the opportunity to create a lifelong friendship with my students and their families, which no other tutoring company has given me before. There's something special about being able to tutor a student from the comfort of their own home while also becoming a new addition in their everyday life.

Emily is one of the best, and at PCH tutors we strive to bring quality to each student who chooses to work with us. Not only is Emily a phenomenal tutor but she's a well rounded, intelligent, and hard working individual. We take great pride in our team, and we’re so excited for all the progress you’ll experience and the memories you'll create when you schedule your tutoring session with PCH Tutors.

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