When Lauren Llorente (pictured above, left) began tutoring NSU students in math and science, she didn't realize how much she would learn from them.
"I never realized how great of an impact this job would have on my future," said Llorente, a 2013 graduate of NSU and the Undergraduate Honors Program, who spoke to other students at NSU's 2013 Tutor Recognition Ceremony.
As an undergraduate biology major with a minor in chemistry, Llorente spent more than two years as a peer tutor, helping students in math and science courses such as Organic Chemistry, Chemistry, Physics I, and College Algebra.
She credits her success with the dental school admissions test and interviews, in part, to her tutoring experience.
"Those sessions strengthened my knowledge in subjects that I had taken three or four years ago and would have otherwise forgotten," said Llorente, who begins dental school in fall 2013 and plans to pursue a career as a pediatric dentist.
"Every time a student came in with an organic chemistry problem, I would help them. But they never realized how much they were helping me," she said. "When I went to my dental school interviews, I was always asked about my tutoring experience."
Briana O'Dowd (pictured above, right), a 2009 graduate of NSU's psychology program who was the alumni speaker at the recognition ceremony, said she applies her experience as a tutor in the courses she now teaches as she completes a doctoral degree in developmental psychology.
"It has been very important in teaching my own classes," said O'Dowd, who was a member of NSU's Undergraduate Honors Program and an Outstanding Student of her graduating class. "I try to integrate different approaches and formats for the students. I gained confidence from being a peer tutor. Tutoring different levels of math reinforced a lot of concepts, both old and new, and helped me when it was time to take the Graduate Record Examination [GRE]."
Lisa Walther-Austin, director of NSU's Office of Academic Services, said about 10 to 12 students serve as peer tutors each academic year, most in math and science.
"Overall, our tutoring program assists the peer tutors in developing their own leadership and academic skills," Walther-Austin said. "Our tutor training program covers skills such as active listening, asking probing questions, and working with diverse student populations. These are skill sets that the tutors learn to master, and in turn, enrich their individual professional development.
"In addition, in the process of tutoring, the peer tutors reinforce their own content knowledge and, in doing so, they become more proficient and able to tackle challenges such as preparing to take standardized graduate/professional entrance exams [MCAT, DAT, PCAT, etc.] or simply prepare for the rigors of their next level graduate or professional endeavors."
Students who apply for undergraduate tutoring positions must meet criteria that include a minimum of 30 credits, an overall grade point average of 3.4 or higher with a B plus or better in any course for which they want to tutor, and references from two faculty members.
Llorente and O'Dowd said the experience benefits the student tutors as much as it does those they tutor.
"As an undergraduate student, tutoring was a wonderful experience I will never forget," Llorente said. "I have helped adult returning students smile when they see a great grade on their first test in years. I have helped students gain that small boost of confidence to help them succeed in a tough science course. I have helped international students comprehend the puzzling language of anatomy and physiology.
"They received something from me. I am sure, however, that I received something much more valuable from them. I learned that patience is an extremely important virtue. I found out that helping others is my passion."