School of Hospitality Management graduate and current MBA student Sydney Riu ’20 M’21 will receive the 2020 Outstanding Tutor of the Year award from the College Reading & Learning Association (CRLA) at this weekend’s national CRLA Virtual Conference.
Each year, through an extensive application process that includes an essay discussing personal evolution as a peer educator and successful tutoring methods utilized, only one peer tutor is chosen. This year, it’s a Gull.
Riu was selected amongst thousands of peer tutors across the nation for her hard work and dedication to supporting all students and employing inclusive tutoring practices.
“This award shows me how much I’ve been able to give back to the Endicott community,” says Riu. “I’ve loved working in the Tutoring & Writing Center for the last three years, to be able to see the students grow from their first semester to their junior or senior year. I’m honored that I was chosen out of thousands of nominees and to be able to represent the Tutoring & Writing Center.”
Assistant Dean for Academic Success and Director of the Tutoring & Writing Center Brittany Potter says, “By recognizing Sydney as the 2020 National Outstanding Peer Tutor of the Year, it shows that the Tutoring & Writing Center at Endicott College goes above and beyond what other colleges and universities provide their student body.” Such an award recognizes the in-depth training and tutoring practices that are used in the Center and exemplifies how passionate peer tutors are. “While developing their own skills as peer educators, they effectively build confidence in their peers by adjusting their tutoring approaches and challenging students to be independent learners,” says Potter.
For Riu, watching the students grow has been most rewarding. Over the years she has met with some of the same students for multiple courses, some weekly for financial accounting one semester and managerial accounting the next. Often the first semester’s tutoring sessions review material and clarify concepts, while the second semester serves as learning affirmation, showing students that they are on the right path. “In my experience, I’ve found that students are very smart and know how to do the work,” says Riu. “They just want a second set of eyes to look at a problem and confirm that they know the course material. I’ve even had tutoring sessions where the student has taught me something new.” When this happens, she then shares this new learning with other students. “You also see the student perk up, that they taught the tutor something new,” she says.
When starting an appointment, Riu asks the student how their day or week has been and how classes are going. This five-minute conversational approach puts students at ease and reminds them that peer tutors are students, too. “I also find that relating examples to real-world or other experiences have helped students,” she says. “Specifically, in the hospitality management program, students have been in [the non-traditional classroom] La Chanterelle restaurant for one or two semesters, so I try relating accounting concepts back to La Chanterelle, so they have a tangible object or place that they can relate concepts, too.”
When thinking about how her experiences as a peer tutor helps her own personal and professional growth, Riu says, “My experiences have taught me the different ways that individuals learn and process information. This has helped me realize that not everyone will understand a concept after the first explanation; everyone needs to have patience and be willing to explain a concept, describe a project, or learn a new work task in a few different ways.” Over the years she was able to create her personal philosophy toward her professional working environment: “create a comfortable environment that fosters inclusivity and professionalism.” She wants the people she works with to always feel comfortable around her.
“The moment that Sydney started tutoring she was driven to help as many students as possible,” says Potter. “She has met with over 400 students and completed over 500 visits. Those statistics alone define how supportive and successful Sydney is for her students. Additionally, her numbers speak to the faculty’s confidence in the guidance that Sydney provides their students as she is frequently the top tutor of the week.”
Potter believes that Riu has grown to appreciate the role of an educator and will apply the techniques she has learned to her professional and personal career. “Sydney’s approach to this position has exceeded my expectations, in that, she has made the peer tutor role one that is significant on campus and a role that many students strive to uphold.”
Endicott promotes a holistic approach to learning, emphasizing to students that it is important to resume the learning process outside of the classroom. The Tutoring & Writing Center is a supportive way to do just that. Students are given a unique opportunity to continue learning with the assistance of highly qualified—and now award-winning—peer tutors. “Ultimately, this award from CRLA shows that at Endicott College, we aim to provide services that initiate deeper understanding that allows students to excel in and out of the classroom,” says Potter. Riu is a perfect example of this.