Meet The Team: Barbara D.


Barbara D. is a French tutor and film buff getting ready to finish her degree in communications at UCLA this spring. Growing up in Brussels, Belgium, the multilingual globetrotter learned how to speak English from watching I Love Lucy, and gave us this interview by phone while on a spring break holiday in Ireland. As a tutor, she believes in the power of positive reinforcement and encouraging students to try - no matter how daunting a problem seems.

How long did you live in Belgium?

I was born in Brussels and grew up there until I was 18.

What was growing up in Brussels like?

Growing up in Brussels was great - it’s a really small city so it’s very easy to get around. I was really independent as a kid and I had really good friends. My best friend lived on the same street as my mom and I had a good friend who lived on the same street as my dad. I went to the same school from 5-18 years old so we all had the same friends and just stayed really, really close friends. I go back every summer - my mom still lives there - and my friends and I always take a trip together. In fact, I’m going to Brussels tomorrow as a surprise to go say hi, so that should be fun.

I was a really happy kid. The weather sucks in Belgium - but the level of education is really good, public transportation is really good, the living is a high standard. Eventually I might go back, but first I might try to live somewhere close but different - Amsterdam, maybe, which is a 2-hour train from Brussels. Amsterdam is a beautiful city. In Belgium, we speak French and Dutch. My first language was French but I speak some Dutch and I don’t get the chance to speak it often so I’d be really down to go. The city is adorable, all the bikes, and the countryside is perfect, so cute. Plus, Amsterdam has a lot of HQs for media so it might be a good place to go.

When did you leave Belgium?

When I graduated high school I wanted to learn how to speak English - I could speak okay, but didn’t read or write it. My dad is French and my mom is from the US so we spoke a little English at home, but I learned most of my English from old movies and shows like I Love Lucy and The Dick Van Dyke Show. I decided to study abroad for about six months in Nova Scotia, Canada. I went to school there, traveled, then returned home and was thinking: “I don’t want to go home right now - there’s so much to do and see!” I definitely had a travel bug. I wanted to study film and wanted to be somewhere where it was sunny because I had been in Canada for half a year and the winter was so brutal. So I decided to move to LA and started studying film at SMC. While I was there I switched to communications, thinking I preferred journalism and media. I transferred to UCLA to finish and I’m graduating in June. I will probably be staying around the area for a while - I have a few internships on the way and I’m waiting for that transition - but that’s the big question, what are you doing after graduation. It’s been a great journey.

Why did you switch majors?

I was in classes where people were insanely knowledgeable about film, people could tell you who won best actress in ‘93 or whatever and it was really intimidating. People were complete geeks, while I was bad at even remembering names. In film studies there are a lot of questions about what director did this and who did what and when, blah blah, so I got really intimidated with everyone who knew so much. And people just wanted it more than I did. I found a bigger interest in communications so I made the switch.

Part of the reason I chose this major is it allows me to work in media anywhere in the world. My dream is to travel and work at the same time and not be stuck in work; with journalism you can really travel for work or make travel your work. I’m still really into film - I’m part of the film and photo society of UCLA and we do productions and shoots and stuff. Staying involved in film activities is fun and exciting and lower pressure and keeps me engaged with other students.

What do you enjoy about your communications and journalism studies now?

One of the topics that interests me the most is anything that has to do with the environment: pollution, climate change... it’s interesting and inspiring to see younger people being so involved even when they can’t vote. For example, the Swedish girl Greta Thunberg is doing great things for the environment and it’s so interesting because she doesn’t even vote or own her own money so it’s not like she can make her own massive economic choices - yet she can still have an impact. Smaller countries making big choices to be more sustainable and big politics fighting to change policies is really inspiring to me.

How did you get involved with PCH Tutors?

I had some tutors growing up, mostly with math because I’m terrible at math. When I moved to LA I found an ad for PCH, probably around 2015. I had given French lessons when I was in Canada, because I would do language trades with Canadians while learning English. PCH seemed like a really cool company and I loved that I could make my own hours. Plus, I got along with Jake really well: he’s cool and I love the company and the fact that he started this fresh out of college. I thought that was so awesome. It showed entrepreneurship.

I love working with teens and kids. I had some experience as a leader and counselor at summer camps and I always had a blast. They’re so smart, and especially with languages they can pick up on it quickly. I love my students.

What’s your favorite part of the job?

I have had an easy time getting along with my students and getting a bond going. It’s really special when students start looking forward to our lessons. I had a student last year who would look forward to asking me movies to watch in French after our session. That’s cool!

What’s your tutoring style?

At least for languages, I focus a lot on repetition. You don’t learn grammar by seeing it once and then you get it: it’s doing it over and over and creating muscle memory in your brain. Little things help: like if there’s a long list of vocabulary to learn and it’s overwhelming, I give tips on how to remember the words and try to link them to English words to help it stick. Finding little things in the word that remind you of the translation and trying to build links to try to remember them - those are things I find useful.

What’s a tutoring mantra you’ve learned and developed through your experience?

“Just go ahead and try it.” If there’s a sentence a student has to translate, and the student doesn’t know how to go about it, I say just try and go ahead. At first you think you don’t know but if you try it, you find out you do know it or you figure it out.

Sometimes students are afraid to try something and be wrong, but it’s all about creating a space to say, “It’s okay to be wrong. Don’t be afraid to be wrong. Even if you screw up, it’s okay.” Lots of school pressure makes students afraid to fail, and sometimes it works its opposite purpose and destroys students’ confidence. But truly - and this is something I’m learning through tutoring and try to teach my students - there is no pressure if you don’t succeed. We can do it again, and you’ll learn for the next time.

What’s something you’ve learned from a mentor or tutor?

My parents focused a lot on being patient in general. It’s easier said than done but if something doesn’t work out, don’t “to hell with it”: be patient and try it again. That applies to my style of teaching as well. If a kid doesn’t understand a certain way, it’s about finding a way to explain same ideas to students. We are all wired differently in our brains and it’s all about being creative and finding different ways to explain the same concept to different people. I have learned I like encouragement so I use that too, to reinforce that they’re doing a great job.

What do you do in your free time?

In my free time I’m pretty busy with extracurriculars at UCLA - film and photo in different productions - or I like to do yoga or hike with my dog. I have a dog named Manuka - like the honey - so we go hiking because we both love to be outside. I like going to the beach or just on a nice walk and listen to music. I spend a lot of time with UCLA at different clubs - I am a part of the transfer student body helping incoming transfer students adapt to their new life at UCLA because sometimes it can be a bit nontraditional when you only have two years to take advantage of everything UCLA has to offer. It can be overwhelming, so I enjoy helping UCLA transfer students get resources.

As a former film major, do you have a favorite movie?

Well my most watched film - though I don’t know if it’s my absolute favorite - is Singing in the Rain: I’ve probably seen it over 200 times. I saw Green Book yesterday and that was really good. I’m a big Forrest Gump fan, too. It’s so difficult to pick one favorite film! Amelie is a favorite French film.


Meet The Team: Elisabeth H.


Elisabeth H. is a junior international studies major and economics/Hispanic studies minor at Pepperdine University. Originally hailing from St. Louis, Missouri, Elisabeth considers her move to the west coast an unplanned “fluke,” but couldn’t be happier to be here. After a stint majoring in pre-med, she studied abroad in Argentina for eight months, an experience which changed her life and her entire career trajectory. Find out why with this inspiring interview!

How did a Midwest girl end up in California for college?

I had never been to California before I moved to Pepperdine. I never saw myself as a west coast kind of girl: my extended family lives on the east coast and it felt like a fluke that I ended up out here. But I came because I was given an academic merit scholarship that helped fund a good portion of my tuition. For me, it feels like God’s Providence that I’m here. Pepperdine was an outlier from all the east coast schools I applied to, and I didn’t expect it, but now that I’m here I really love it and feel like I’m supposed to be here.

Now that you’re a California Girl ™, do you surf?

I’ve only tried surfing a few times and it was pretty disastrous. But now I can’t handle cold weather: I’ve become weak. In that sense I’m a California girl!

How did you choose international studies as your major?

I was originally pre-med - my first two years at Pepperdine were full of science classes - but when I came back from abroad the beginning of this school year, I switched my focus because studying abroad in Argentina was really formative for me. I love Spanish and felt like while I could be a doctor and find a way to enjoy that career, it wasn’t my passion or what I loved or what I wanted to read about in my free time. I always had seen myself in science - science was more than a little piece of my identity, really - so it was a hard adjustment at first to be a non-science major. I had a mini identity crisis. But I switched to international studies because I really feel like my passions lie in politics and formulations and economics. I would love to work someday in a government role and go back to Latin America and live and work there again.

I added the minors of economics and Hispanic studies as well because I’ve always been interested in Spanish and originally thought I might even major or minor in it. Economics I just added this year after I took a class and loved it - I’ve gained a real passion for economics. I feel like economics is a way to change the world: the intricacies of it help to make smart and informed economic decisions. Development relies on that kind of education to build up places around the world: after all, robust economic institutions lead to robust political institutions.

How did Argentina prompt you to make such a radical change in your field of study?

I fell in love with the people and culture. I am fascinated by the history of Argentina’s cultural and political development, especially in how it has differed from US history and development. It fostered a bigger curiosity in me for politics, economics, Spanish, and understanding different cultures around the world.

How did your family respond to the change?

My family was pretty supportive. They’ve always trusted my decisions and trusted that I am making them with a clear head. I think they were a little apprehensive at first - especially my dad, dads will always worry a little - just about whether I could be financially stable when I graduate. But they see the importance of this field, and my passion, and they’re trusting it to work out.

How did you get started tutoring?

I started working at PCH the first semester of my freshman year after some friends referred me. Before I started tutoring, I didn’t know if I would like it or if it would be for me. But then I started it and really loved working one-on-one and developing relationships with high schoolers. I love the feeling of helping someone understand something, and when you finally find the right way to explain something that makes sense to them, that’s so rewarding. I get really invested in the students and I get excited when they understand something or get a good grade on a test.

What has had the biggest effect on you as a tutor?

Something that has really impacted me working with PCH Tutors is how these families really get to know you. I feel lucky to be paired up with families that know me and appreciate me. My freshman year I had a student who, the first time I came to their home, their mom asked me right away how I liked my tea. Every time after that whenever I came as soon as I sat down she brought me a tea made just the way I’d said I liked it the first time.

As a college student, you don’t get a ton of access to “normal” families and normal life, so for me this was something that really just was grounding. Twice a week I’d get to go and sit with this family and drink tea with them and be a part of their lives. It’s always been a stand-out community moment and something I love about tutoring with PCH.

What have you learned as a tutor/teacher?

I’ve been learning that not everyone’s minds work the same way. It seems like an obvious thing, but for me what’s been important is realizing that I can spin something this way, then use this example, then explain it that way, and overall try a bunch of different things with a student until we find what works. Because how I understand is quite often different from how someone else understands an idea or concept.

Working to find different creative ways and examples was something I needed to practice at and tutoring has definitely helped me understand that and made it clear to me how our minds work so many different ways. That doesn’t mean someone is more intelligent or disciplined than another. Some people work creatively and others work analytically. That understanding also plays into my love for understanding and engaging other cultures - international studies.

Who has been an influence on you and your tutor/mentor style?

My mom is a high school physics teacher and I had her as a teacher in high school. I went to a small high school so a lot of my friends had her as a teacher as well. She also led my high school robotics team - she was the coach, and I was on the team. Something that stood out, learning from my mom - she is one of my mentors but also a teacher - has been that I’ve been able to see how impactful and life-changing teaching can be. My mom always goes the extra mile, she stays late any time students need help - even students from other classes - she’s compassionate and selfless, loves people well, and is able to help students feel comfortable going to her with questions. She gives students a lot of grace and compassion. Seeing and experiencing that firsthand as a daughter and student and on the robotics team, and observing that through friends, I’ve seen how important it is to love people well and put them in an environment where they can learn and also mess up and make mistakes.

What is something you’ve found valuable that you enjoy sharing with your students?

One thing I really love to do is kind of what I was saying about my mom: it’s important to build relationships. If a student is comfortable with me, then they’re comfortable messing up, which is good because you learn so much from messing up. Building a relationship with that student and have it be a comfortable learning environment is what I’ve learned the most, and is the most effective.

What do you do for fun in your free time?

I have another job here on campus, I work for the Pepperdine Volunteer Center, that is something I spent a lot of time on and in that role I get to help match students up with service opportunities and plan cool stuff like blood drives and service days. That’s not really my free time per se, but it’s something I enjoy doing. I love to do all your typical things like go to the beach and eat food and read and travel, so in my actual free time I’m probably doing something like that.

I really really love podcasts, so many podcasts, it’s super nerdy.

Do you have any favorite podcasts you’d recommend?

I have a few, you might not want to get me started on that tangent! But currently I really like Radiolab and NPR’s Left, Right and Center, which posits politics and news from all the spectrum of perspectives. It’s good to hear all sides of an issue and have a full view of the event or whatever is happening in the news so you don’t get silo-d into your own views.

As an international studies student, do you have a favorite travel moment?

One of my favorite moments from being abroad was in Argentina last year. One of the things we did every Saturday was go to a farm about two hours from the city. We’d hang out with families that built this community away from the city for people struggling from drug problems. The story is that these parents had struggled with drugs but eventually got clean and moved out of the city and started a rehab-like community in the country with about 60 people. Every weekend we played soccer and ate and painted and practiced Spanish and played music and formed deep friendships with them: all these kids and teens and university students who grew up on this farm. That’s one of my favorite moments and memories of community in Argentina, getting to know people and culture and understanding friendships so intimately.

What’s your favorite Argentine food?

Medialunas. They’re like croissants, but a little denser, with a sugary glaze.

What else should we know about you?

The most important thing about me is that I have a nephew named Carson who is almost a year old. He’s the most lovable and best thing in my life. That is my favorite thing about me: Carson.

What’s something you’ve learned recently that you’ll take with you?

That studies don’t define what we have to do for the rest of our lives. It’s comforting to know my major doesn’t define me or what I want to do. In fact, my career will probably pivot and I’ll probably be doing a lot of things. That’s how it goes these days. But that’s okay.


Meet The Team: Roarke M.


Roarke M. is a freshman poli-sci/pre-law major at Pepperdine University and specializes in math tutoring for PCH. Yes, her parents named her after Sandra Bullock’s character in A Time to Kill. They just thought it was cool. Real-life Roarke is pretty cool, too - read more and see for yourself!

Where are you from?

My dad is from Australia and mom is from Indiana. I was born in Australia and lived there for a short bit before we moved back to Terre Haute, Indiana. I’m a dual citizen.

How did you end up at Pepperdine?

I had a close family friend in LA. After he attended a church service at Pepperdine, he wholeheartedly believed I should go there. I’d applied for several colleges around the US but just to humor him, I sent an application to Pepperdine as well. When I finally went for a visit, though, I really liked it. And here I am.

What are you studying?

I’m a freshman in political science and pre-law, with a nonprofit management minor.

Do you know what you’d like to do with these degrees after you graduate?

At this point, I’m hoping to leave my options open - with a law degree I know I can do a range of things, but with the nonprofit management I’d like to get into the social action and justice realm; the human rights sphere of things. I found that passion at the end of high school, and because of that I love how diverse it is out here in Californi

Talk about your passion for social justice.

My first year at Pepperdine I took a seminar in social action and justice - I’d never gotten to take a class like that, ever. It was incredible to experience learning about being less discriminatory and more accepting, but in a classroom setting. It changed my outlook and in general how I live my life - even how I talk in conversation with people and how I see the media and politics. It’s expanded my mind and desire to be a better human to others. I hope to one day bring some of that California culture to places like back home.

How did you get started with PCH Tutors?

Once I got to Pepperdine last summer, I needed to work. I joined the Pi Beta Phi sorority - and a majority of the girls are tutors. They hooked me up with PCH and I got started right away. It’s been a super awesome connection.

Do you have any tutoring success stories?

I started tutoring toward the middle of fall semester, so at first I was picking up students who were getting Ds or failing their math classes, which was a challenge to jump into it. But a lot of the students I tutor are freshmen in high school and I’m really not that much older than they are, so it’s cool to be able to connect on a more friendship-type level and give them encouraging support, like to be able to text them and say, “Good luck on your test. Our relationship isn’t just working on graphs all weekend.

I’ve made some super awesome friendships with some of the girls I’ve gotten to tutor, and now it’s been nice to be able to start strong this spring semester with fresh classes and grades. It’s also been awesome to make family connections since I’m so far from home. I even go to the same church as one of my student’s families!

What have you learned since becoming a tutor?

I’ve figured out that I learn in a different way than I have figured out some of these students learn. Even though most of my students are freshmen and sophomores all taking the same class, I have to approach every single person in a different way because they all learn in different ways. Some prefer going through problems on a whiteboard, some of us talk through things first, some need metaphors, and some just need me to show them how it works. At first I tried to teach them all in the same way I was tutored, but then I realized that as a tutor you have to be dynamic enough to help everyone succeed in their own special way. That’s what I’m learning to develop and grow in more right now.

You’re home in Indiana for spring break right now. How are your students faring without you?

I FaceTime whenever I’m at home with my kids who need regular weekly lessons. I’ve done it before, helping someone write their essays. It’s great!

What do you do for fun?

I played golf in high school and now that I’m officially “retired,” I often end up at Top Golf with my friends. I’m here right now!

I sing on the celebration chapel worship band at Pepperdine, carrying over my choir passion from high school when I sang in the choir. I also participate in Pi Beta Phi philanthropy, of course - every now and then we go to a nearby school and read to kids which is super cool, and lines up with my passion for helping grow in their academics.

Have you read anything good lately that you’d recommend?

Yes! Tortilla Curtain - a lot of my students live in Topanga Canyon so it’s very cool that the story is set here - it’s about a refugee who immigrated from Mexico to California and lives in Topanga Canyon. It’s essentially about the journey of his life and the integration of people who come from Mexico to California.


Meet The Team: Heather P.

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Heather P. is the PCH Tutors account manager and the most recent addition to the staff. Originally from Pleasantville, New York, she graduated from the University of Wisconsin, Madison with a degree in international studies and Spanish, then earned a master’s in childhood education and special education at Hunter College in New York before teaching for several years in Manhattan. After subsequent adventures including world travel, teaching yoga, and working in ad sales, she relocated to Los Angeles in 2017 to complete a second master’s in Chinese medicine, acupuncture, and herbs. Heather has inspiring things to say about her multi-layered career and passion for helping educators maintain sanity and wellbeing. She maintains a wellness website and enjoys cooking healthy comfort dishes and learning how to better care for plants including her avocado tree, Gerard.

You’ve had a very circuitous career route! Did you always want to work in education?

I always knew I wanted to be a teacher, but I wanted to take time in college to learn about the world and other cultures before I got a master’s in education. I spent time studying abroad in Jerusalem and taught English in Buenos Aires.

What brought you to Los Angeles?

When I was teaching in New York I started to do yoga and meditation to take better care of myself as a teacher and shared these tools with my students and other educators I was working with, and I really wanted to learn these tools to share and so that’s why I left teaching because I wanted to do a yoga teacher training and other things. I started working for a company that led yoga and wellness trainings for educators, and I taught yoga at a private school, teaching two to six-year-olds - it was really fun to just see kids really go for it. Even four-year-olds are really stressed out these days.

How do you teach yoga to two-year-olds?

They’re the best at it. They do everything you say and they love it. And you can sing songs and dance with them, too.

What inspired to you to pursue studying Chinese medicine and acupuncture?

Working with teachers and educators and seeing their burnout was my focus for a while and then I started seeing a lot of stress and imbalances among people of all professions, and how much yoga and breathwork and energy work can help. I wanted to learn more about alternative medicine to help not only educators but all different humans.

In the mid-2000s I was having a lot of skin issues and a lot of western medical doctors didn’t know how to help me. They were giving me like steroid cream for the back of my neck and stuff for my scalp and didn’t know how to help and ultimately an acupuncturist helped to balance everything and told me to stop eating gluten and stop using chemicals in a lot of things I was doing. Now I think a lot more western medical doctors know more about these things, but at the time they really couldn’t help me. I started getting acupuncture and lymphatic drainage and reiki - I’m also a reiki practitioner - so that was really cool for me to heal personally from those modalities. From then on I started thinking about doing acupuncture.

I started leading 200-hour yoga teacher trainings for educators and teaching them how to take better care of themselves so they don’t experience as much stress and burnout. And teaching them tools to teach their own community: students, families, and their personal communities. It’s really amazing work.

When I wanted to further my wellness practice after I did yoga teacher training I thought I might as well just follow my dreams, you know?

How does acupuncture even work?

There are a lot of different approaches. One is muscular; stimulating certain muscles. But then there’s this whole meridian configuration that I will learn about for four years. There is a lot to learn, and studying herbs, too, has been pretty cool.

What makes you passionate about teaching self-care and giving people these tools for it, and educators specifically?

I think teachers and educators are the most important people in the world and definitely don’t get enough of anything - pay, nor emotional support, nor recognition. And having gone through that myself and feeling that I didn’t have the support and care that I needed - I want to take good care of tutors and teachers so that they can create better younger people and make the world a better place. With that, also just interested in working with all different kinds of people and also specifically helping people to navigate - not only do I find education to be a place where there’s a lot of un-clarity, I feel like there’s not a lot of support and I feel like I’ve experienced the same in the medical world so I think that what I’m doing ties together my personal issues with education and the healthcare system.

But it’s taken a long time to figure all this out. There was no way I could be a school teacher and learn and do all the other things I was passionate about. This ties all those together.

What drew you to working with PCH Tutors, especially in the midst of your busy studying schedule?

My experience - and observation of others - in finding tutors is “oh, somebody knows a tutor, let me call that one person.” But I really like how PCH Tutors puts that time, care and effort into hiring quality people and not only that but matching them with people whose personalities match and their skill sets match. It’s nice to see that process and see students getting the help they need.

What’s some advice you’ve received from a teacher or mentor that you’ve found to be really valuable?

This may sound cheesy but one of my yoga teachers once wrote in a card to me, “More truth will set you free.” To me, I think that mostly just means be you who are, do what you want to do, and don’t worry so much about what society or your parents or whomever wants you to do. I think that’s really good advice because I think often people may end up going to a certain college because that is what they think they should do or studying and then not being interested in it or not. Like, if you’re going to have to work until you’re 120 these days, you might as well be doing what you like to do! I wish someone had told me this way earlier and it’s something I like to share with others.

Is there a mantra or some advice you like to share when you’re leading trainings or teaching others?

This is kind of connected to what I just said, but I feel like it’s been hard for me to have a lot of different careers and change direction a bunch. And so I think just something I remind myself is that I am strong and smart and can do these things. I try to focus on the positive attitude instead of feeling that I should be doing something because everyone else is doing that thing. Just staying true to what it is you want to do and knowing that you can.

Do you have any time for fun?

I’m so busy right now. But I like cooking - I think homemade food is what’s missing from a lot of people’s lives. I’m not very good at growing plants but I also have a handful of plants in my bedroom that I’m trying to grow including an avocado plant that has been really fun. I’m doing it from a pit. It has huge, beautiful leaves right now. It’s hard not to kill it. You have to change the water.

What’s your best dish?

Right now I’m really into fried rice but I don’t use soy sauce, I use coconut aminos which are a hidden gem. If you don’t use that you should go buy it ASAP. I’m also making lamb stew - I have a really good recipe that’s lamb and rice. Usually I don’t like to mix foods together - I’ll have everything separate on my plate but there’s one dish where you make the lamb, you make the rice, and then you make a cucumber-feta-tomato-delicious salad, and then you mix it all together, it’s really good. I’ve also been making homemade chicken soup which has been really amazing because it’s freezing and raining every day. Cold foods are anti-Chinese medicine but I also really like smoothies.

Why is cold food anti-Chinese medicine?

Because food’s supposed to build and nourish the fire, so eating warm and cooked foods is good and cold dishes are not. It takes more time and energy for your body to turn it into what it wants it to be. Also, Americans tend to be scared of fat but I’m into those healthy fats because it’s really fat that makes you skinny.

Hence, Bulletproof coffee and avocado trees.


Does your avocado tree have a name?

Ooh, no, but I’d love suggestions.

Post Script:

PCH Tutors conducted an Instagram poll [@pchtutors] to find the perfect name for Heather’s avocado tree. The roundup included:

  • Guac

  • Nacho Avocado Tree

  • Gerard

  • Terry

  • Toast

  • Avi

Heather chose Gerard.

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Meet The Team: Evatt S.


“Growth is so much more important than what you know. The desire to learn and grow your knowledge is what’s important. You can’t judge yourself for not having a particular knowledge, you can only judge yourself for not wanting to grow in that knowledge.”

Evatt S. is from the foot of the Rocky Mountains in Durango, Colorado. He’s finishing his fourth year of a five-year double major in physics and theatre with an emphasis in acting, and plans to graduate in 2020. How does someone choose to double major in such seemingly disparate fields - and how does he have any extra time to tutor? In this interview, Evatt explains why physics and acting are both essential to feeding his mind and soul, and points to online tutoring as a great way to maintain effective mentorship while saving transportation time. Read more about this acting physicist, and while you’re at it, save the date for his next live performance: a twist on Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew at Pepperdine’s Center for the Arts on April 23.

How did you choose such juxtaposed fields of study, and how’s that working out for you?

I’ve always really enjoyed being both left and right brained. When in the past I’ve tried to let one side of me go, it’s never really worked out well - I just go crazy. Having both keeps me satisfied; physics keeps the analytical side scratched and the creative side - making art and stuff - is theatre.  

How did you end up in Malibu at Pepperdine?

I didn’t really know what I wanted to do in college - I thought maybe either acting or some sort of engineering, science, or chemistry. But the Venn diagrams didn’t really align well so I didn’t have a clear sense of what I wanted to do or where to go. So I decided to get out of my small-town bubble and come to a larger city to have that experience. Pepperdine was a good mix: it’s near LA and has access to everything that has to offer but it’s also removed a little, closer to nature, and more familiar to home. Plus, the acting program here is set up in a way where I can actually take a second major, whereas a lot of places you can’t do another major along with acting.

Why did you choose to study acting?

Acting has taught me so much about other people and about myself. Every time I do a different show, I am investigating somebody else through my character, and somehow while doing that I learn a lot about myself. It’s taught me to be comfortable in my own skin and taught me how to express myself more freely. Finding the truth of these characters and how to express that truthfully helps me to do that with myself.

Are you in any performances right now?

I am in rehearsals for The Taming of the Shrew right now. In our version, the genders are swapped, so the men are played by women and vice versa. I’m playing Bianca - a supporting female role - which is an interesting, explorative endeavor. The twist takes a show that could be considered pretty outdated - after all, it’s about taming a “shrew,” meaning a woman, and we reverse that so that a man suddenly gains a woman’s perspective in the world, and learns through that experience.

The play doesn’t vilify anyone or say all women are this way or all men are that way, but in the original play, there’s an essential message that women shouldn’t be headstrong individuals and you shouldn’t be in control of your own life because if you are, you’re seen as a shrew - abrasive, not ideal. Our story has rewritten a couple sections to explore the viewpoint of how it would feel if a man were to assume that role and have that experience. The systemic oppression of headstrong women is not ok, and a woman can be just strong as a man can.

What’s one of your favorite roles you’ve gotten to play?

Last year I got to do Edward Bloom in the musical version of Big Fish. It was an incredibly special show. The story is about family and stories and the power of stories and the power of the stories you tell yourself - it was great, and that was my favorite.

You’re clearly passionate about acting. So why physics, also?

I like how many unanswered questions there are in physics, specifically regarding how the universe came to be, what makes it up, and what governs its laws. For example, the research I do with a professor here - we are about to publish a paper about this - is looking at the qualities of the particle responsible for gravity. We have no idea what that is: an electron would be responsible for electricity and the magnetic field along with a proton, but for gravity we really don’t know. In physics, it’s pretty awesome how quickly you can get to depths that are uncharted.

Would you say your interest in the unknown (physics) balances your desire for individuals and yourself to become known (through acting)?

My love for each field of study has to do with my desire to understand the way things are. The way things are in terms of people and humanity is a bit less defined, less specific. So there’s a subjectivity that’s really important to realize when talking about the way people are - that’s theatre.

Another side of that coin is physics, which is very much about objectivity and finding what’s true objectively. I enjoy both a lot, but the process of trying to understand both of those things can be very different, and feeds me in different ways.

Do you have any plans or thoughts for what you want to do after you graduate?

I don’t know exactly, but my goal for now is to go to grad school and possibly become a professor of physics. I do, however, have an internship this summer with the engineering firm Northrop Grumman, and that will give me a chance to see what non-academia science is like so I can make a more educated decision. Ultimately I’d like to be a professor or researcher in physics, but grad school is probably in both futures.

Why not acting?

I used to be committed to acting, and I used to think my career was going to be in acting, but lately my interests have shifted. Acting is always something I’ll do, but it’s just not my focus right now.

What do you like about tutoring?

I do love tutoring, genuinely. I enjoy using what I know to try to help somebody else have that knowledge too. Reframing the knowledge I have in a way that someone else is going to understand is a difficult thing to do but really satisfying. Seeing my students get something, and experiencing the moment it all clicks - that moment is just very fulfilling.

What have you learned from tutoring?

I have learned that if you don’t know something, be humble enough to admit that. If it’s something I think I know but I’m not able to articulate that right now, don’t waste time bumbling around and acting like I know. If I’m unable to answer a question, or it’s on the tip of my tongue, I’ll wait until after the session and go refresh what it is that I was missing, then I might send a video or something to the student just trying to explain further. I think in anything - especially teaching - you have to have integrity, so part of that is being humble when you don’t know everything.

What is something you’ve learned from a mentor that inspires you in your own tutoring?

My professor with whom I’m doing research right now has been a big mentor of mine. The research I’m doing is way over my head and I’m nowhere near the knowledge base I should have, but he’s taken me on as an assistant. I’ve had a huge learning curve in order to be helpful to him, so he’s essentially had to give me a lot of private lessons in some of these things. The lesson he’s given me - the gift - is that growth is so much more important than what you know. The desire to learn and grow your knowledge is what’s important. You can’t judge yourself for not having a particular knowledge, you can only judge yourself for not wanting to grow in that knowledge.

What is some regular advice you find yourself giving students?

I try to convey to students the point that I can make their lives easier in terms of helping them with homework, but they’re going to have to learn themselves - I can’t make them learn. In other words, I can make lives easier, but ultimately they have to do the work of learning. I can support them and give them tools and confidence to do that and make that a little less painful, but they ultimately have to be the ones to actually study and internalize it. I’m not going to be able to do everything they need in an hour or two-long session to pass the test, but I can give them tools to do the learning on their own.

You’ve transitioned some of your students to online tutoring. How is that going?

Online tutoring has taken some getting used to but I think it’s been really effective and I feel like I’m able to provide a service that is really comparable to in-person tutoring and is much more convenient for both me and the student. I wouldn’t have enough time to leave campus and tutor multiple students in their individual homes; now I can do it at campus and helps maintain relationship with students after transitioning students to online. The tools that PCH tutors is using are effective and powerful so we are able to import graphs and external information into our work space and it’s just like looking at it on a computer in person.

Do you ever have free time and if so, how do you spend it?

I enjoy being outside, hiking camping, and seeing how cool the outside world is. If I’m not doing that, I like deep conversations with small groups of people; I can do that for hours and be pretty content. If I could have been a philosophy major I would have added a third major, but I would have been here another two years!

Being from Colorado, I’m also a big skier and mountain biker. Durango is so close to the mountains and there is incredible kayaking and rafting, and it’s really close to nature. I grew up doing all that and I love it.

Read anything good recently?

I most recently enjoyed an anthology of short stories by Ernest Hemingway. He captures people in a way that’s pretty special.


Meet The Team: Josh M.

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Josh M. is a 2018 graduate of Pepperdine University. He studied computer science and mathematics, and now tutors for PCH Tutors while also working remotely as a part-time junior software developer. Get to know Josh and what inspires him most - both at work and outside of it!

How did you choose what to study in college?

I’m from Moorpark, California. Going into college in 2014, I really didn’t know what I was going to major in, but my father and uncle are really into the field of technology - that’s what their careers are based around. That inspired me to think, “Maybe I’ll give this a shot.” I picked computer science as a major, but the first year and a half it was really hard for me just to be successful in learning all this new content and trying to adapt to a certain way of thinking. But it paid off in the long run and I really enjoyed my time as a computer science major.

What was your favorite aspect of studying math and computer science?

I think what interested me most was application development. I had the opportunity to work on a mobile app in the summer of 2015, doing updates for a product that had already been created. I was inspired by having my work in the palm of my hand on my phone and being able to see the results and how it challenged me to think of real-world applications. I love that realm of tech. Overall, I really want to work in software development.

What are you hoping to do with your degree?

I want to continue my growth as a software developer. Software’s changing every day, there are always new technologies coming out, and being able to grow and adapt with those changes would be really exciting. I think I would like to be an Amazon web-certified engineer, working with Amazon’s web services. It makes you pretty marketable as a software developer, so that’s where I want to get to.

I also want to be traveling to different places, experiencing different parts of the country around the globe. I think in about 10 years, I’d like to be a decently traveled person.

Where do you want to travel first?

It might sound random, but I’d like to go to Chicago because one of my best friends is there. He’s always told me I’d love the food, and that’s an immediate draw for me. After that, maybe Nashville or Austin. Anywhere with good food.

Do you have any tutoring success stories?

I think what stands out to me the most is my first student ever, whom I still tutor. Because I had never been an official tutor before, I was really nervous going into the first session, thinking: “What if he doesn’t like me, will I remember all my middle school math?…” I was just really overthinking things. But I got to the house and the student’s mom was very warm and kind, and then meeting the student and just being able to connect with him and share common interests really built a foundation for a good tutor-student relationship.

What is something a tutor or mentor taught you that you’ve found to be invaluable advice?

As a TA for one professor at Pepperdine, I was able to pick up on some of her general teaching style, mostly through hearing about her experiences as a professor and by watching her interact with her students; she was a pretty good influence on the way I now interact with my students. Most of my anecdotes from her are more classroom-oriented - whereas I teach more one-on one - but the foundation is similar.

What is some advice you give to students?

The best advice I’ve given involves helping students hone their test-study habits. A lot of the students I help are in middle school, and often don’t know how much time to expect dedicating to studies or to how to study efficiently. After a study session I ask them: “Once I leave, what are you going to do to prepare for your test tomorrow?” I like to remind them of the needs they may not consider right now in the moment. Like, if you develop these study habits now, odds are they’re probably going to pay off for you once you move up to a higher level of education.

Do you have advice for other tutors?

What I’ve learned works best when tutoring new students is: don’t be nervous, just be friendly and try to connect with them. I’ve found that once students know you and trust you, it makes the experience altogether more fun for you and the student and promotes a good environment for learning.

What do you do for fun?

It’s pretty cliche, but I’m most content when I’m surrounded by my friends, hanging out with them, and dedicating free time to them. It helps me to relax, and takes my mind off a long day. I live across from a park so some days I’ll go out and shoot the basketball and lose myself there for a couple hours.

Any books or other media you’ve enjoyed recently?

Since I graduated, I now have time to read books I actually want to read, which is awesome. A month ago I started American Gods by Neil Gaiman and that has been a really good read to take my mind out of reality for a little bit.

Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s StarTalk podcast. It’s a balance of reality and fiction - I like the best of both worlds, I guess. He did a podcast about AI and i just remember being hooked on the show after that, and I enjoy learning and listening to the different aspects of science he covers. He did an Anthony Bourdain interview on the show as well, talking about how science influences food and culture. I like how eclectic the show is and all the topics it covers.


Meet The Team: Daniel R.


Daniel R. is a Pepperdine senior from San Diego studying mathematics, religion, and conflict management. He will graduate in the spring of 2019 and in the meantime, he’s one of PCH’s outstanding tutors. Despite his alleged nerdy math side, he loves all things active and outdoorsy. Get to know Daniel a little more through his own words:

What are you studying?

I’m a mathematics major, but I actually finished that last semester along with a minor in religion. I’m currently in a certificate program for conflict management - Pepperdine has one of the best programs for conflict resolution in the world - and that was something I tacked on to the end of my college education.

What’s your favorite mathematical concept?

The study of combinitorics - basically, advanced counting. It’s taught me how to count a bunch of ways to do something - which sounds nerdy, but it’s cool how powerful these tools and concepts are, that you can count such big numbers without a calculator.

How did you choose your fields of study?

Math is something I thought I excelled at in high school, and I saw the practical use of getting a math degree. I wouldn’t say I’m super passionate about it or want to go to grad school for it or anything, but I’m going to be interning at a nonprofit organization doing data analytics, so I can see the practical use of mathematics. I’m also a religion minor - I’m passionate about and super interested in this because Christianity and faith are both a huge part of my identity. As for the conflict management program, I figured I might as well take on some personal skills, because those will always be useful.

What are you hoping to do with that long-term?

I hope to work for a nonprofit in the future. I’ll be interning with World Vision International soon so I hope to work with them post-grad if possible, then long-term I’d love to work with either them or something similar, most importantly with a mission I can get behind. I would be super happy to use the analytical skills learned from my math major but I am also open to fulfilling other niche needs of the organization - even doing the actual field work and going to sites and helping in that capacity.

Why did you become a tutor?

I enjoy tutoring, and you kind of learn as you’re teaching. In fact, you learn better by teaching whatever you’re learning, so it’s actually a good way to hone my mathematical skills.

Do you have any tutoring success stories?

It’s always super cool when the student has no idea what’s going on either in their homework set or the lesson they’re supposed to be learning. Then after you spend time with them, you see the light bulb go off and they finally get it and they really start to power through the nitty-gritty of whatever problem it is. Those moments are really fun.

What is something a tutor or mentor taught you that you’ve found to be invaluable advice?

I go into professors’ office hours a good amount. If you have the opportunity to go into any professor’s office that’s pretty much the best tutoring you can get, and it’s free. I definitely recommend taking advantage of office hours.

What is some advice you want to give to students?

I usually ask my students a question to elicit their thoughts on a topic - for example, I’ll ask how they themselves see mathematics as beneficial. It depends on each student of course - some are just trying to get through the class to graduate - but asking them why they think it might important kind of gives them more agency, and they seem to be more invested in the class. It gives them a bit more ownership of the topic even if they didn’t choose the class in the first place.

What do you do for fun?

I love the ocean, I’m a big surfer, and I like to free dive and snorkel around the coast. I’m also getting SCUBA certified soon. I work as one of Pepperdine’s outdoor recreation guys so I get to lead a bunch of national parks trips, snowboarding trips, that kind of thing. I just got back from Zion last week - that was pretty amazing. I love hiking climbing, and doing anything outdoorsy, really.


Meet The Team: Ashley G.


Ashley G. is an engineering student with passions for encouraging more women to get into STEM fields, finding ways to improve the education system, protecting the environment, and expressing herself creatively through art and design - just wait til you hear about her apartment (scroll down for photos!)!

Originally from Nashville, she grew up in the southeast US, but it was only when she came to the west coast for college that she started upping her spice tolerance and getting into that hot chicken game. Now, Ashley’s an online tutoring pioneer for PCH Tutors, and does a lot of her tutoring remotely. In this interview, she shares how she keeps it all moving and shaking and inspiring.

What’s your major?

I’m in a dual-degree called the 3-2 program, where I do three years at Pepperdine and two at USC for a five-year degree. I’m in my fourth year total, but my first at USC. I studied natural science with a physics minor at Pepperdine, and at USC I’m a mechanical engineer major.

How did you end up in this Pepperdine/USC program?

I applied to 16-17 colleges around the country and was very open to where I might end up. Geographically, I wasn’t sure where I belonged - the only thing set in stone was that I knew I wanted to be an engineer. A friend had gone to Pepperdine a year before me, so I applied because of her; the engineering program affiliated with USC was attractive, and it was a great opportunity to get out of the south and try California for a while.

How is it to be a transfer student?
I was socially and culturally involved at Pepperdine, so it hasn’t always been easy, especially going from a small school - high school, too - to a big school. By the time I finished there were fewer than 10 engineers in my program at Pepperdine. It’s been harder to get involved at USC but I’m learning I just have to put in more work.

How did you choose your field of study?

When I was in high school I thought I wanted to be either a physical therapist or an engineer, or do some sort of design because I really do love design, both interior and art. In high school, I took AP art along with AP sciences like AP chemistry. I was very versatile, and hung out with both artsy and nerdy people.

Really, the environment I grew up in encouraged me toward engineering. My dad was an engineer - there are over 20 engineers in my family - and my female cousin who is an engineer particularly inspired me. I loved Legos as a kid and all the “boy toys” - I always had a knack for building things and my parents, of course, wanted me to get a degree that would push me to a successful future. Engineering seemed like a good fit for that.

Of course, the balance is always to find something that lets you do what you love and will also help you live. I’m studying engineering but I also want to find a way to artistically and creatively do something with my career. I really need to be able to creatively express myself; I’m an engineer but I’m not a normal engineer, which I think is actually pretty common. At USC there are so many types of people and it’s great that people are going into fields you wouldn’t necessarily think they would, creating a more diverse community. My mom is a little worried about me entering a male-dominated field, but I say if I don’t go into it, it’s never going to change.

For example, I designed my own apartment: drilling into concrete, the whole thing. When I go to Home Depot to buy a drill bit or whatever, men typically assume I don’t know anything. Even men who don’t work there often to help me, but I already know exactly what I need!

There is definitely a social stigma about women not being able to be in an engineering environment. People don’t take me seriously until I prove myself, which is frustrating. My aunt and female cousin are both engineers and also struggle to deal with that.

It can change, though, we just have to do it and encourage women and girls that they can do math and science. I really like being an example to my students and encouraging them - especially girls - in math and science, because there’s just not a lot of emphasis on women in STEM. Often, girls are just as good in those areas as boys, but we’ve been preconditioned otherwise. As a woman and a tutor, I am happy to play a little role that can ultimately affect that stigma and start to change it. After all, since 2013 there have been more women than men in universities. Women are in positions where we can do these careers so we need to start believing in them and assuming they can. I don’t even want a leg up, I just want to be treated as an equal coming in, and not have to prove myself anymore than anyone else.


What are you hoping to do with your degree long-term?

I have a lot of dreams - everyone out here does! Los Angeles is just an inspiring place, everyone here seems inspired to do things and make a change. My end goal is always to feel as though I have made a change and an impact but I’m also happy and confident with who I am and what I’ve contributed at the end of the day, whether I am super “successful” or not. At the end of the day, though, I hope my hard work will pay off.

I love engineering and it’s my passion right now, but I look at is as more of a building block, a start where I can grow. I want to take engineering and do more with it. I don’t play on stopping there. There are lots of things I’m passionate about, like climate change and animals, so there are a lot of things happening that I can focus on, but at the end of the day if I am pleased with whatever I’m putting out in the world, that’s the real measure of success.

What are you hoping to do after you graduate?

I’ll graduate in 2020 after my fifth year. I’m considering applying for the PDP program to get an accelerated masters, then start working.

Is your passion for encouraging female students to be confident in their math and science abilities specifically why you became a tutor, or what else inspired you to start teaching others?

I never thought of tutoring as something I could do. In high school I was smart enough, but not valedictorian or anything. I did well enough but never thought I could teach others - that is such a huge responsibility! I thought I’d have to be so smart and know everything; I couldn’t imagine doing what they do. But my friend, who was a tutor for PCH Tutors, encouraged me to do it. He told me, “You already know and are learning the math, why not help others learn it, too?” I hadn’t even realized I could share that with others.

I realized it’s not a matter of whether you know the material like the back of your hand, but it’s mostly a matter of whether you can teach it. It’s more about the ability to communicate an idea to a student in a way that’s specifically tailored to them. Tutoring is like coaching a sport - just because you’re a good baseball player doesn’t necessarily mean you can teach it. Of course you want a tutor who is pretty well versed in the subject matter. But times are changing - kids are taught different problems and methods than they were even a few years ago! If I don’t know something, I’ll look it up, then figure out how to convey it to my students. Teachers can be insanely smart but may not always know how to teach to different students’ learning needs, which is a shame; luckily I’m here to help them! I actually have my own tutor, too - yes, tutors can be tutored! - who helps me with physics and engineering stuff.

I’m close with all my students, I love them to death. Tutoring has been the best job, honestly. I tell everyone they should do it, it’s so rewarding, and it even helps ME with school. It keeps me on my toes with the smaller things like factoring polynomials and graphing them - I actually do use those in class. I just had an engineering test and definitely used some of the material I taught my kids. Helping kids with their school is a huge responsibility and when they do better and learn it just makes it even more rewarding.

It’s pretty clear your students love you, too: when you moved downtown to USC, it looked like you weren’t going to be able to keep tutoring them. But they petitioned to keep you as a tutor, and now you’re working with some of them online! How’s the online tutoring process going?

We use both an iPad and a computer and it’s amazing - I don’t know how people did online tutoring without both of these tools! Just last night a student got home late and hit me up to ask if we could still work, like, “Can we do this now?” I was almost home so I said yes, give me five minutes to get inside! I was able to sit up and work late with the student because I didn’t have to drive and meet them. It’s really flexible for both me and the students. Sometimes their class schedules and mine conflict - for example, college students often finish our exams and head home for the holidays earlier than the high school students have their final exams. That means they lose their tutor when they really need it! So I’m excited for this online tutoring, and I have a good system going with my students.

Do you have any tutoring success stories?

There are always those times students do better on a test that feel good, but success is more like little victories that happen when I tutor and see something click for a student. I can see a light spark in them and they get so happy because they learned it and did it on their own and now they believe in themselves. The moment they actually get it - which happens all the time with tutoring - and those types of little moments are what I pay more attention to. Getting better grades is one thing - that’s what they’re paying for, that is what is suppose to happen. But it makes me feel great when I see they are feeling confident.

I’ll get off the phone with a student after a session and they’ll say, “Wow, it’s been an hour already?” I mean, have YOU ever said that about learning math? Building up their confidence is what really inspires me.

What’s something you’ve learned you wish someone had taught you sooner?

Freshman year was academically harder than I’d expected while I was getting situated in a new environment. But that happens during an adjustment. I could say I wish I’d had a better mindset going into college; I thought I was confident and a hard worker but I still had to learn how to adjust. Taking physics and chemistry and calculus was much different in college than it was in high school! But I think I had to go through that.

What is something a tutor/mentor taught you that you’ve found to be invaluable advice?

My tutor at college has been really good - if I didn’t have him to help me with school I don’t know if I would have had the confidence as I do now. It’s almost a reversal - someone doing for me what I was then able to use to help my kids. Everyone - but especially kids - needs someone to be that mentor and give them that confidence and help them believe in themselves. Mentoring is so important.

What is some advice you want to give to students?

I like to tell my kids that I feel good when I put good out there in the world. Also, see the bigger picture and don’t let the silly stuff or little high school things drag you down. I encourage students to stay grounded and realize those little distractions are not such a big deal in the grand scheme of things. I try to encourage them to be those better kids in high school, to help others and be mentors to others and create more goodness around them.

What do you do for fun?

I love expressing myself artistically. I’m obsessed with my apartment: any free time I’ve had, I just work on my apartment, designing, doing arts and crafts, reupholstering furniture, everyone on a tight budget. I’m really proud of it, and that’s what has made me realize I need to find some way to stay creative like that in my career. I can do physics all day long but I’m so excited to come home and work on that painting or whatever creative project I’ve started, and I’ll stay up ‘til 3am doing it. I’m going ham on this place - it’s my creative release. I’m also a foodie, so I love exploring and experiencing new places with friends.

I also love the outdoors and hiking - I studied abroad over the summer and hiked all over Europe every weekend. Now that I live downtown I find ways I make sure I go to the outdoors - I often go back to Malibu on the weekends to hike or go to the beach. Working out and being healthy is a huge part of what helps me get through everything, it really helps with my mental state and having less stress.

Ashley’s apartment, a model of her design prowess.

Ashley’s apartment, a model of her design prowess.

Meet The Team: Sophie F.


Sophie F. is a Pepperdine senior studying international studies and a PCH tutor specializing in AP and European history. Originally from Arkansas, she’s embraced the SoCal culture and, when she’s not passionately doling out anecdotes from history to her students, Sophie enjoys learning to surf, hanging with her girlfriends, and travel, travel, travel.

What are you studying and when do you plan to graduate?

I am an international studies major and I plan to graduate this April but I do not have plans for after graduation yet. I do want to move out of the country for a couple years - possibly somewhere in Europe because I study French.

How did you end up all the way at Pepperdine from Arkansas?

I toured it and fell in love with it. I love that it gives me the opportunity for both an education and spiritual growth. And the international studies major is great.

How did you choose your field of study?

I have always loved learning about other cultures and about people in general around the world. I have always loved traveling as well, so combining those passions with academic studies was appealing. Career-wise, eventually I think I’d like to go the diplomacy or nonprofit route. One of my favorite classes is my international relations class because we talk about current problems in different areas of the world and analyze how we can help - or not help - create solutions for those problems.

Why did you start tutoring?

I started tutoring because a friend reached out and asked if I could do AP European history. I took that class in high school and really enjoyed it. We also have to take classes at Pepperdine that go through centuries of history, so having recently gone through some of those classes I felt I could really help out students studying similar material.

What inspires you as a tutor?

Seeing when things click with students inspires me, especially because personally I really enjoy history. Getting to share different stories and speak passionately about history, then see students engage in it as well, is great.

Any tutoring success stories?

Specifically, I saw improvement in writing capabilities through working with a few of the girls I tutor this year which was awesome.

What is something one of your tutors or mentors taught you that you’ve found to be invaluable advice?

Never be afraid to ask for help. I’ve learned that through establishing good relationships with teachers and professors and educators. Through having those relationships I’ve been able to really learn more comprehensively and not be afraid of the material.

What’s your advice to students?

It may sound cliche, but I think time management is really important. There are quite a few times when I am tutoring and just think back to being in high school, realizing that high school is a time when you should be learning on all that: how to manage priorities and start things ahead of time.

What do you do for fun?

I love hanging out with my girlfriends, and I’m in a surf class - it’s been fun getting into that while living here. It’s fun to challenge myself to do something new. I also like to do yoga and watch movies, but I don’t have a favorite film because it’s hard to have a favorite of anything!

Meet The Team: Emma E.


EMMA E. is a psychology major at Pepperdine University. Originally from Gig Harbor, Washington, Emma plans to graduate in 2020 and attend physician assistant school. In the meantime, however, she is a PCH tutor, a nanny, a track (hurdles) runner, and a world traveler with a passion for students, mental wellbeing, and healthcare. Get to know this PCH tutor and hear her inspiring tutoring success stories and tips for making the best out of high school and learning how to focus and study more effectively despite life’s inevitable distractions.

How did you choose your field of study?

I was originally a sports medicine major because that seemed like great way to prepare for being a PA. But I soon realized that the classes I need for physician assistant school do not necessarily correlate with that major’s required classes, so I switched to psychology. Psychology is fascinating and such a vital yet overlooked aspect of healthcare. With this new major, I am taking classes to help me understand the mind, and now I can hand pick the classes I want to take about the body as well. I think of it a little bit like a DIY program, but it is perfect for me. I am so glad that I have this option at Pepperdine because it gives me the freedom to reach the kind of professional goals I aspire to achieve.

What do you hope to do after graduating?

I am going to take a gap year. Right now I am looking at either working as an EMT in a big city, or working overseas with a program similar to the Peace Corps or Doctors Without Borders. Then I will attend PA school, hopefully in New York!

Why did you start tutoring?

While taking a summer class, I had some free time and needed an income. I was referred to PCH Tutors by sorority sisters who all loved their jobs. This sounded like a great fit for me because above my passion for healthcare is my passion for children. Providing personalized education to children to effectively help them learn is vital and underrated. Both in the US and overseas, children often do not receive the attention and assistance they need to succeed in school.

I was blessed with incredible teachers growing up, but unfortunately, my tutoring students frequently tell me they feel unsupported by their teachers, that the material is not explained well, and that expectations are unfair. Learning is the most determinant factor in whether or not an individual or community will thrive, which is why I feel so strongly about doing whatever needs to be done to help students learn.

What inspires/encourages you as a tutor?

Every time I meet a student who is passionate about a subject - or, conversely, comes across information that makes their brain hurt - it lights a fire inside me. All students should have access to material that they can not only master, but that also challenges them and really makes them work. When students ask me questions that are “off topic” or down a rabbit trail, I love it because it shows me that they are grappling with the material and working to understand.

Do you have any success/memorable stories?

I work with one student who really struggles to sit still and focus. He is a very bright young man, but can be challenged while trying to sit at a desk and focus on a task. However, in the few months I have been working with him, I have watched him not only master his material, but learn about his learning styles and become more self-aware.

For example, we were reviewing material for an upcoming test and normally this would be difficult for him because there was no activity or writing involved - only verbal review. He knew himself well enough to stand up in the middle of the room and hit a ball with his baseball bat while we practiced. He was not distracted, but this activity allowed his mind to focus on the material and he ended up doing very well on the test.

What do you do for fun?

I ran hurdles on the track team at Pepperdine my freshman year. I cannot run on the team this year because of my ACL surgery this summer, but I love running and being on the track. I have nannied for three years now, and I absolutely love my girls. It is an incredible thing to be welcomed into a family in such an intimate way. I spent most of my time studying, but I love physiology so I really enjoy learning about it. I studied abroad in Heidelberg, Germany, last year and I LOVE traveling! (and I love heights).

What’s something you’ve learned as an adult that you wish someone had told you sooner?

I have always been very skilled at “doing school.” Not at learning necessarily, but at figuring out how to get straight A’s all through high school. This was highly rewarded by others in my family and in society, but when I came to college, I realized my brain had never really been forced to work before. I had never been put into a situation where I had to do more than merely memorize material for test.

I encourage students that while grades are great indicators of how well you are understanding the material, never forget to dig deeper, ask questions, and explore your passions. I deprived myself of this so that I could just get As, and I wish someone would have encouraged me to be fascinated by the material.

What’s some advice you’d like to share with students?

School is not always fun, but life is not always fair. It is not fair that your teacher assigned you four hours of homework tonight and you had to stay up late. Absolutely not. But do you know what else is not fair? That my friend who lives in Swaziland does not have access to resources in her classroom and has to be taught with kids of all ages, meaning she has no personalized learning. Oh yeah: her classroom is four brick walls on some dirt. That isn’t fair either.