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.