I first took a chemistry class in tenth grade. It was an introductory Honors Chemistry course and I will admit I struggled. Many of the topics seemed very abstract and were extremely difficult for me to grasp. However, I did make it through the course with decent grades and although I struggled with the subject matter I really did enjoy learning about it.
After another school year went by, and I was finally a senior in high school, I enrolled in not only AP Chemistry, but also two semester long elective classes in biochemistry and organic chemistry. Here my love for chemistry really surfaced. My increased exposure to more difficult topics in chemistry solidified my understanding of the basics and gave me both the knowledge and confidence to become a tutor for two students, one enrolled in an honors chemistry class and the other in and general introductory class. Here I was able to use my passion for chemistry as well as my experiences struggling in the class to relate to my students and identify the areas that they struggled. I explained to them the amazing impact that chemistry has in our lives, how it is all around us and how it impacts every single microsecond of our lives. Chemical reactions are everywhere, in our cells, in plants, even in the atmosphere that surrounds us not just in a test tube in the lab.
I feel that my enthusiasm and relatability as a tutor inspired both of these students and this in itself was a great reward. It was amazing to see a student that felt almost hopeless in a subject begin to understand the subject and even begin to enjoy it. Making them realize how much all of this applied to their lives and guiding them in a direction where they were able to understand the abstract concepts that before made no sense to them whatsoever inspired me to continue pursuing chemistry in college where I am now a chemistry major.
In addition to studying chemistry I have worked as a Learning Assistant for UMBC's CHEM 101 class. Here I attended each lecture section throughout the week and helped students (many of whom were not chemistry majors like myself, possibly not even majoring in a STEM based discipline or students who were not at all enthused by the idea of taking this class) with "clicker questions," questions that the professor posed in her lecture and allowed the students to respond on polling devices known as clickers. Working in this position I saw the same lightbulb go off just much more frequently in many more students each time a concept clicked in their brains. This only furthered my love for chemistry as well as helping people understand this terrific and complex subject.
This semester I will be leading Supplemental Instruction sessions where I guide students in CHEM 101 and help them understand material. While this is not tutoring I am able to apply many of the things that I learned as a tutor to my SI sessions and what I learn from my SI sessions to working as a tutor.