Nor Cal Tutor Expo ’18: Merced College
More than 170 learning assistance leaders from 18 different community colleges and 2 California state universities gathered at Merced Community College on March 23, 2018 for the third annual Northern California Tutor Expo, the flagship event of 3CSN’s Learning Assistance Project. The program was titled “Cheers for Peers,” and was the largest turnout yet for the annual spring conference that is by and for learning assistance professionals, and especially student leaders themselves. The morning plenary featured UC Merced student Maricela Martinez, who delivered a heartfelt keynote address called “Learning My Own Lesson: How Becoming a Tutor Taught Me the Lesson of Self-Worth,” and was followed by a student panel discussion on peer mentoring featuring Raul Mendoza, Kody Huntington, Anore Barrera, and Aysia James of Merced College, and Jason Casio of Los Angeles Peirce College.
Student-led breakout sessions covered a wide variety of topics, including building diversity, community, and empathy in tutoring sessions, supporting ESL and bilinguals students, working with adult learners, and applying Growth Mindset to help students succeed.
“I thought this tutoring expo was really mast because it was so student focused,” said Trillian Donahue, a graduate student in English Literature at San Francisco State and a tutor at Skyline College’s Learning Assistance Center.
Donahue also was struck by the unique opportunity this event provided to build the professional identities of student leaders. “Peer mentors, talking about what they do or what they want to do, coming together in a professional conference so early in their careers! I thought back to my days going to a community college and thought about how amazing having an experience like this would have been, how invaluable that introduction to the professional community would have been.”
An emergent theme of the day was how diversity and equity are things to be embraced, rather than ignored, in creating powerful learning environments. Many participants also commented on the camaraderie that was developed by visiting Tutor Expo with their campus peers, and connecting with new ones from all over the state.