Student Volunteering Week: Meet Steven

It’s Student Volunteering Week, and we’re taking this opportunity to celebrate all of the 134 student volunteer tutors who are giving up their time to support our young pupils.

Today we meet Steven, an undergraduate from Queen Mary University of London.

I enrolled as a volunteer tutor because I wanted to explore new opportunities. Volunteering for The Access Project seemed so fitting as a student. You acquire essential skills and experience to be an academic; it gives you a new perspective on teaching and supporting someone academically, and finally, like many, going through studies during the COVID-19 lockdowns was tough for me and volunteering by tutoring is how I wanted to give back to my community.”

Steven found The Access Project through his university careers officers and their web page. Steven started tutoring in the autumn and is currently supporting Zara, a Year 11 pupil, with her Chemistry studies.

Steven spoke to us about the most rewarding part of volunteering.

“The most rewarding part was when my tutee got their bright lightbulb “Eureka” moments…when they finally got it. The greatest satisfaction of learning is when it all makes sense.”

Steven explained how tutoring has had its challenging moments too.

“I found the process quite challenging. Some times it is easy to get my message through, but other times I need to do extra to get to the point of understanding. However, I ultimately enjoy the process as it causes me to take my approaches differently and be more creative in delivering information. In a way, this tests my understanding of the topic whilst at the same time offering me the perspective my teachers and lecturers may have; what it might have been like in their shoes. Personally, this is a unique and valuable opportunity to learn and gather experience, getting both a learner’s and an educator’s perspective.”

Steven’s tutee, Zara

We asked Zara about her experiences of being tutored by Steven.

“My Chemistry tutorials with Steven have been incredibly helpful – I have jumped two grades in 4 months!

Receiving 1-1 support and having the opportunity to ask questions that I may not be able to ask my teacher in class has made such a difference.

He makes every tutorial so engaging! His support has truly increased my confidence, grades, and interest in Chemistry. I cannot thank him enough.”

What would Steven say to other students considering enrolling as a volunteer tutor?

“Tutoring with The Access Project gave me real experience and practice. Anyone considering teaching in the future or working in academia may find tutoring with The Access Project very rewarding. I am neither the most experienced in this field nor have been a tutor for the longest among my peers, but from the time that I have been a volunteer with The Access Project, I found it very rewarding. Furthermore, to anyone thinking of volunteering, making a difference and giving back to the community, whilst sharing the passion towards learning and teaching, volunteering with The Access Project is an excellent opportunity.”

“The Greek philosopher and statesman Seneca once said, “While we teach, we learn”. In a way, I am practically revising whilst tutoring, which is always great because a building is only as good as its foundations. But now that I am “delivering” the materials, I am compelled to learn and do things from a different perspective. I have to approach difficult concepts differently, I have to use my own words to explain things clearly, I have to apply and synthesise what I have learned over the years to form a logical answer, and I have to recognise mistakes, even if they are my own, and think of feedback that prompts and encourages learning.”

“I want to thank and congratulate the wonderful people, staff and fellow academics in The Access Project for doing what they are doing, especially in supporting students who may be at a disadvantage but have incredible enthusiasm to achieve great results. There is always the feeling of knowing that there is a like-minded community of peers, educators, former academics and students, like myself, supporting the cause. The time I have been volunteering with The Access Project has been a pleasure, and I highly recommend giving it a try to anyone having similar thoughts. I hope you find it as helpful and impactful as I did.”

Could you be a volunteer tutor? The Access Project supports talented young pupils who may have faced barriers to a fair education by offering academic tuition and mentoring. They are running online information sessions throughout Student Volunteering Week.

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