Sam & Alex Stanley
By Eric Fergason
The SALT Center employs a team of tutors ranging from undergraduates to retirees. Each tutor represents a diverse community of individuals dedicated to student success. Last week, we posted an article on Regular Tutor, Tomi Obafemi (class of 2014), in which we discussed his experience as a tutor at the SALT Center and the impact it has had on his college career (visit our SALT Center Stories page to read more). This week, we are highlighting Advanced Tutors and sisters, Alex and Sam Stanley. Alex is currently a senior at the UA, majoring in English and Music, and her sister, Sam, is a senior majoring in Communication.
While looking for a job during her sophomore year at the UA, Alex assessed what she had to offer – she realized that her academic record and experience as a tutor in High School would be very marketable. She learned about the SALT Center’s tutoring services through a friend who utilized the program, and thought it would be a great fit.
Based on her friend’s testimonial, the characteristics that made the SALT Center unique compared to other programs on campus were its small student population and personal interactions. “I figured I’d give it a shot!” said Alex. “I think it offers a much friendlier atmosphere, because you can get swallowed up in this giant university, and [the SALT Center] is a place to feel safe and to learn.”
Alex told her twin sister, Sam, about her new job, and Sam started tutoring at the SALT Center the following semester. “I like that the SALT Center is right here [on campus]. It’s different than [other academic support centers] because you get to develop relationships since you see the same people all the time.”
SALT Center tutors undergo a rigorous training regiment to obtain and maintain their tutor certification. After earning their Regular Tutor certification, Alex and Sam wanted to become Advanced Tutors. In order to move up to this level, they each had to complete 100 hours of tutoring, and create a project that was reviewed by those who have obtained the highest level of certification: the Master Tutors.
While they also participated in campus-wide trainings that included tutors from the THINK TANK and other academic support programs, their training at the SALT Center focused on strategies for students who learn differently. As Alex explained, “We do specialized training [at the SALT Center] because there are some things we deal with that [other support centers] don’t, and vice versa.” Sam added, “You learn a lot about different learning challenges and different strategies. Once you get to the Advanced or Master level, you’re [a much more effective] tutor.”
Advancing though the different levels of tutor certification impacted both Sam and Alex’s personal academic experiences. Sam’s training, coupled with her time in the Writer’s Lab, bolstered her confidence in her own writing ability, “I think it makes me academically stronger because I brush up on what I know every day…I have become a much better writer because of all of that practice.”
Alex’s time in tutoring sessions helped reinforce her skills and broaden her perspective, “The strategies that we teach the students are the same strategies that I use when I write papers, so its really helpful to go over those every day…It definitely reinforces your knowledge, because you can look at [a concept] from 15 different angles”
Sam and Alex share the sentiment that the highlight of their job is the relationships they build with students as they grow. A student may enter a tutoring session with very little understanding of the material, but leave with a feeling of confidence. Sam states that she enjoys her relationships with first-year students most of all: “It’s really cool to see them from day to day, hear how they are doing, and watch them pick their major.”
Sam will continue her education at the UA this fall as a graduate student in the Communication department, and will be advancing to the level of Master Tutor at the end of this semester, “It’s kind of funny, because I’m probably going to be a TA for a lot of the students I tutor.” Alex, a Fulbright Finalist, will be moving to Chile as part of the United Nation’s Open Doors program, where she’ll teach at a K-12 school.
We are very grateful for Sam and Alex’s contribution to our program, and the value they have provided to our students. We wish them both the best of luck in all of their future endeavors.