While organic chemistry is a subject that I enjoy, my Bachelor of Science degree is actually not in chemistry. Although I minored in chemistry, my baccalaureate degree is actually in clinical laboratory science. My major was cytotechnology, which is a concentration under the clinical laboratory sciences, and its curriculum was structured as a joint degree program involving two universities. I had my first three collegiate years at Fairleigh Dickinson University, and then my senior year took place at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (which became absorbed by Rutgers University in a merger that occurred nearly two years after I graduated).
Because organic chemistry has historically been a very feared and hated course to many biology, chemistry, and pre-med majors, newer and more unique ways of teaching it are long overdue. I believe that I can be one to help narrow or close this great divide.
When I took the course, I heard plenty of analogies that were helpful in understanding the concepts, and this inspired me to use some of my own analogies and others I've heard as a teaching method. In my daily life, my conversations with others are often peppered with analogies, some of which can be pretty silly and hilarious, and I have often used that ability of mine when learning and teaching organic chemistry because it helps provide a visualization of various organic molecules and their reactivity. There were times I have told people that my umbrella had undergone an SN2 reaction on a particularly windy and rainy day, and this helps people to understand how the changes take place during the course of this chemical reaction. Sometimes the sillier or weirder an analogy is, the better because it sticks out. As a musician in my spare time, my artistic, creative, and sometimes quirky side has been very helpful for not only myself but also for others when trying to get an understanding of the concepts.
Organic chemistry is a subject in which being able to visualize and think on a molecular level is very important.
And in order to help a student move beyond memorization and toward understanding, I feel that it is important to not spoon-feed the student. I am all about helping people (which is why I am interested in this position), but I believe that truly helping people means fostering independence. When I teach people, I don't always just give away the answer. Instead, I provide them with the tools they need to get to the answer, which sometimes involves responding to questions with questions. That way, they will understand what they need to think about as they make their way to the answer. A good teacher is a facilitator: a guide, not a dictator. When someone comes to me for help, I want to make them feel empowered, not stifled or enslaved. I do not believe in leading with a "because I say so" mentality because that doesn't help people find their own way. It doesn't foster independence. It does not teach.
My best teachers were those that challenged me to think critically instead of just spoon-feeding the answers to me, and that is what inspires me to be a tutor. Using various creative means, such as analogies, drawing pictures, telling weird stories, making unusual comparisons, and so forth, are also methods that I believe are truly engaging and beneficial in a learning environment, and thus I use them when tutoring on a historically feared course such as organic chemistry. When the business-as-usual ways of teaching have turned people away, it is time to turn the tables, and I believe it is my calling to make that change.
In my spare time, I like to play piano and compose my own music. So far, I have written 42 songs, and the count will continue to rise as time goes on. Being on stage has never been an issue for me, so I also like to play piano in public, and these performances have often taken place at open mic nights at various venues in North and West Jersey.