Peer Tutor Spotlight – Achol Jones

Photo source: Achol Jones

Hi! My name is Achol and I was born and raised in Vancouver. I just finished up my second year at UBC studying Neuroscience. I am in the first cohort of the major, which is super exciting and provides lots of opportunity to help develop the program, which I am working on this summer. Although I eventually want to pursue medicine, cultivating supportive and engaging learning environments is a current passion of mine that I channel through my work as a Teaching Assistant and Peer Mentor for First-Year Focus: Computation, a private Tutor, and of course as a Peer Tutor for BIOL 112 this past winter term.

BIOL 112 was my favourite course in first year, so I am so grateful to give back to the students and teaching team by spreading my passion for the subject. Also, it’s true, teaching is the best way to learn! My understanding of the course material has developed significantly throughout the experience and has helped me in my other courses too. Outside of education, I volunteer in Child Life at BC Children’s Hospital and dance when I need to give my brain a break.

What do you most enjoy about being a Peer Tutor?

My favourite part about being a Peer Tutor is that I get to be a completely student-focused member of the teaching team. I have the unique opportunity to dedicate my work to cultivating an environment where students feel comfortable asking me anything and working together to build confidence in the course. I will always take extra time after lecture or in office hours to answer questions and offer general advice about learning and university. I remember how valuable it was to me in first year to have someone help me navigate the transition to university. It’s a priority of mine to do the same for the BIOL 112 students, so they know that I truly care about their wellbeing and want to help them succeed.

What has being a peer tutor brought to your undergraduate degree?

Being a Peer Tutor has been a life-changing experience in so many ways. First, it showed me what it means to love your work. I found that I was happiest on the days that I was peer tutoring and interacting with students. It allowed me to make a meaningful impact on students’ experiences, which actually helped me feel less stress about my own heavy course load. Second, the position allowed me to discover new things about myself. In the past, I never thought I would’ve been able to speak in front of hundreds of students. Now, through doing review sessions, I know that I can do it, and in fact, I’ve found that I enjoy lecturing. Peer tutoring has illuminated that teaching will have to be a large part of my future career because it brings me so much joy.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Much of my spare time is spent thinking more about education, whether it be self-studying random topics I am interested in, reading papers on educational psychology, or brainstorming methods to improve my courses. I have become fairly well-known among faculty as the student who suggests constructive changes and additions to their courses! Apart from academics, I have always been passionate about dance and have explored various styles such as Salsa with the Latin Dance Club and R&B. I also like to practice mindfulness in my daily life to inspire gratitude and mitigate stress. Additionally, you can find me doing my daily Duolingo on the bus, desperately trying to learn Spanish. Some other honourable mentions are photography, spending time with my cat Lucy, travelling, and hanging out with my friends.

What is a fun fact about you that people may not know?

Something that people may not know about me is that I love having spontaneous deep talks about the brain, consciousness, the universe, and more. I find it so interesting hearing different people’s perspectives on what it means to be human, as it is shaped by their unique life experiences.

What are your plans following graduation?

After graduation, I plan on attending medical school (hopefully at UBC!). For now, I am interested in pursuing pediatric neurosurgery, but I am aware that this is very specific and may change over time. I just finished shadowing some neurosurgeons in New York and although it is a long journey of education, from what I’ve seen so far, it is a very rewarding one. It’s important to note that I like to keep my options open as I gain new experiences and discover more interests. For instance, my involvement in education has reshaped my views for my future, prompting me to consider being faculty at the medical school in the long-run.

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