By: Sarah Ansong, Loyola Senior
As Loyola moves towards a full year of remote online learning, many students have openly acknowledged their struggles to adjust to the transition. However, one courageous Loyola sophomore, Raj Patel is not only surviving, but thriving being both a tutor and student.
Raj Patel, a 19- year-old Molecular Biology major and tutor, actually insists that the pandemic provides him with more leisure to enjoy his free time with family and friends while also indulging in his favorite hobbies such as reading and playing basketball.
Patel currently resides in Yorkville where he’s lived since elementary school. He shared how he balances work and school and even shares tips on how to thrive academically under pressure as a tutor. Raj’s love for microbiology allows him to follow his biggest passions which are being a personal trainer and nutrition.
*Interview has been edited for length and clarity
RER: Why did you decide to become a General Chemistry tutor for freshman and sophomores especially during a pandemic?
Patel: I want to be a tutor to motivate [students] to understand like hey, you can do this. Like don’t let some terrible moments like this determine your passion for the right field. I always tell kids in my session that your character is going to be showing through all your hard work during a pandemic.
RER: As an undergraduate student studying biology, what challenges are you and your fellow TA’s/tutors currently facing while balancing your own studies and helping others with theirs?
Patel: I’m doing fine because I know I always motivate kids to figure out what works for them. It’s probably just a fact that I always talk to my peer tutors or my classmates like “Hey, if you’re helping somebody, that’s all that really matters.” If I pace myself and I have a schedule and plan ahead, then it’s possible for you to balance school and you know have other hobbies and time for other people.
RER: If you could change one thing about tutoring online, what would you change?
Patel: The biggest difficulties I face as a tutor is it’s like I’m separated by screen from you. So it’s like if you see a student doesn’t understand, they just turn off their screen and I don’t know how you’re feeling. As a tutor, you really don’t want to see your students struggling and because it breaks my heart honestly when you know doing the best you can but you’re separated from me from a screen and you’re really frustrated. You do not deserve that.
RER: Any words of advice you would like to give your fellow students, TA’s and Tutors for the future?
Patel: Yeah, I would definitely say put yourself in your student shoes because I know there’s a lot of times where a student might be cranky. You don’t know how their life is and there is a reason why they came to your session today. Always connect with your students no matter what, always treating them as you know, like a brother or sister.