Our members are our greatest asset at ATP and we love to highlighting the work that they do and the resources they are proud of on a weekly basis. On ATP Thursdays, we put the spotlight on a member of the week, a resource of the week, or a best practice of the week. We’re a community of learning. We work best when we share our passions and practices.
Today, we bring you the work of ATP Board Member and Treasurer, Michele C. Doney. Michele has been working for the City University of New York (CUNY) system for 11 years. She has been working at the Baruch Branch specifically for 1.5 years. Here’s Michele!
ATP: What drove you to the field of academic support and tutoring?
Michele: I got here completely by chance. I was working at a regional campus of a college for adult students, doing something totally unrelated to tutoring. When the only math tutor on campus resigned, somebody remembered that I had a science and math background, and they asked me if I’d be willing to try tutoring some students. I had to re-learn all the math I had forgotten, but helping those older students make it through their math requirement was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. When I was given the opportunity to build an entire tutoring program almost from scratch at a nearby college, I jumped at the chance. I’ve been doing this for almost eleven years now, and I can’t imagine doing anything else.
ATP: What do you love the most about your job?
Michele: I love the students – the ones who work for me, and the ones who come to the center for help. I have the very good fortune to work for a college that is ranked very high in terms of social mobility, which means the education students receive here truly transforms their lives, and sometimes the lives of their entire families. For many of them, that means taking on very challenging majors with extremely difficult coursework. The tutoring we provide is often the thing that helps them over the finish line. I love that time at the end of every semester when grades get posted, and students come back to the center to share their excitement with their tutors when a grade in a particular course exceeds their expectations. No other department on campus gets to have that precise experience. It energizes me. And the tutors themselves– they are brilliant, dedicated, funny, and motivated by a sincere desire to help other people. Working around these incredible young people is one of the greatest joys of my life.
ATP: What’s a big challenge that you are facing at your center?
Michele: We need more of everything! More tutors, more space, more funding, more hours of operation to meet the needs of students with crazy schedules. I think every learning center director has a mental list of a dozen amazing things we could do if only we had more resources!
ATP: What’s one piece of advice you would give to your colleagues?
Michele: Get connected! There is a vibrant community of practice out there, filled with dedicated people who are eager to share what they know. Get active in ATP and in any of our CLADEA sister organizations that are relevant to your work. Go to conferences. Participate in webinars. If you’re not on the LRNASST-L listserv, stop what you’re doing right now and subscribe to it. When I got my first job as a learning center director, I had a track record for building things, and I had some experience tutoring math and teaching science, and that was it. I had a LOT to learn. I signed up for a bunch of ATP webinars and attended the NCLCA Summer Institute. These experiences totally transformed my thinking and allowed me to progress rapidly in my new position with confidence.
ATP: What’s a fun fact (not related to tutoring) that we should know about you?
Michele: I love to walk on the beach and collect beach glass and interesting stones. I also love a good glass of wine. I put these pastimes to good use by making lamps out of empty bottles filled with beach glass and interesting stones!
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