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Q&A Interview With Former Claremont Tutor: Dr. Mello

By: Christine Ascher (Student/Writer/Tutor)

Can you tell me a bit about your background and what you’re doing now?

I went to school first at Chaffey community college, then transferred to UCR for undergrad. I then completed medical school through UCR School of Medicine, and am now a Doctor currently doing my Psychiatry residency in the Central Valley working with the underserved.

When did you start working with Claremont Tutors? What made you want to tutor initially?

I worked with Claremont tutors while I was at Chaffey and UCR. I wanted to tutor because I wanted to give back all the tools and experiences that I had learned throughout my educational journey. I realized the importance of strong mentorship and the significant impact it can have in one’s trajectory.

How did your approach towards tutoring change as you gained experience working with students?

My approach changed as I realized that each child was a unique individual with different strengths and weaknesses. I realized that I could not approach each client with the same style and mindset. Many of them were heavily involved in different extracurriculars, and struggled with juggling their commitments. I realized that to be an effective tutor was not to solely help them through a singular subject (“e.g.: Trig”), but to work with them in a holistic manner. At times it involved allowing them to vent about how difficult the class was or everything they had on their plate; other times it was to help them realize how this class would help them achieve their ultimate goal. Some really wanted the constructive feedback whereas others needed more support and positive encouragement. Working with many different clients and having multiple sessions helped me realize what style worked best in certain situations, with the ultimate goal of helping them achieve their personal goals.

Were there any difficult situations that you encountered with students? How did you handle them and what did you learn?

In terms of difficult situations, I would say being asked to tutor someone somewhat late in the situation (such as to help them pass the class or get an A with only a few tests and assignments left). Overall I think it’s very important to be transparent and honest with the client, and make sure they understand what is feasible given the situation. I learned it was important to reign in any unachievable or lofty goals early. I also learned to ultimately provide learning and guidance that would help them in all facets of their educational career overall.

Do you remember any particularly meaningful experiences that you had with a student?

Honestly, I would say I remember each student fondly because each one had their own challenges and unique circumstances. That was one of the best features of Claremont Tutors: the variety in the kids you worked with and the different subjects you could help them in. It is an amazing feeling to help someone achieve their goals, especially when they initially do not believe that they are able to achieve them.

How did your tutoring experience add to your overall college experience? Did you learn anything from tutoring that you were able to apply to other areas of your life, then or now?

I would say my tutoring experience greatly impacted my overall career path. I became a doctor because I wanted to help people when they were going through a difficult time. Tutoring further emphasized my desire to help people navigate through difficult events in their lives. It also gave me a real, first-hand opportunity to see that “one size does not fit all.” Like each client, each patient is a completely unique individual dealing with many different circumstances. I was also able to utilize direct experiences I had from tutoring towards answering challenging questions throughout the many interviews I’ve had to do.

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