Sookyung started working for Tutors for All over two years ago as a tutor at the MGH Youth Scholars program. She has always been dedicated to helping our students, first a volunteer tutor, then as a lead tutor last semester, and now as the MGH Program Coordinator. We talked with her to learn more about her background and what she’s taken away from her T4A experience.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am originally from South Korea, and came to the states after graduating from high school. Once I arrived I studied English at a language school in Boston for 9 months. Then, I continue studying at a local community college for a year and a half. After that, I transferred to UMass Amherst to finish my undergraduate degree. When I’m not studying, I love to practice Kendo, a Japanese sword-fighting martial art.
2. How did you hear about Tutors for All?
After graduation, I got a job as a research technician at Mass General Hospital. I started looking for local volunteer opportunities around the hospital, and that’s when I heard about the MGH Youth Scholars program. I have always been interested in teaching so I decided to join T4A. I remember on my first day at the job, I showed up extremely over-dressed and in heels – I was so embarrassed!
3. What is the best part about working for Tutors for All?
The best part of my job is getting to know the students over the semester. MGH Youth Scholars program fosters a relationship with students over the course of a semester not only as a tutor to a student but also as a coach and scholar. It’s very rewarding when I know I’m able to support my students and guide them in the direction that I believe is best for them. Not only can you see how much they grow and develop stronger academic skills, but I see myself growing with the experience as well. For example, when two of my students Monica and Dorene found out they aced their final exam in spite of the struggles they had at the beginning of the semester, it not only strengthened their belief that we can make a change when we put in the effort, but also reminded me of how much I feel personally connected to the students, excited for them, and proud of their continual work. In addition, most of my students go out of their way to thank me for the academic help and support I provide them. For example, coaches and scholars know when the last day for us to be together as a part of Tutors for All at MGH program is, and Chang Liu came to our session to personally thank me even though he had other commitments for that day.
4. What plans do you have next?
I have worked for a while at a basic academic laboratory and now I am applying to MD/PhD programs, a training program for those interested in becoming a physician scientist. This is a great opportunity for someone who wants to do research, but work with patients as well. During the application process I was asked to list any meaningful activities I do, and T4A was the first thing that came to my mind!
5. How will you take what you have learned working for T4A into your future career?
When I’m doing research, I often find many mistakes in my experiments. These mistakes are always difficult to find, so you have to keep trying until you’re able to get some success. By working for T4A, I have gained so much positive energy from helping my students. That energy pushes me forward in my research and helps me stay positive. I could also see myself having the same dynamics I do now with my students as I will with my patients when I become a physician scientist, getting motivated as I witness positive changes I make in my patients and staying positive despite hurdles I am most likely confront during my research.