I've just acquired a PhD degree in Chemistry, and am hoping to move into science journalism or editing. I really admire people who can take very technical writing and transform it so that non-experts can understand.
Khadija Jawad is learning to make herself heard.
The normally soft-spoken student – who has dreams of becoming a professor – has found the skill a necessity as she tutors freshmen at University of Michigan-Dearborn.
“It’s easy for me to answer questions by students who come to my supplement instruction (SI) general chemistry sessions because I want to be useful to them,” she said.
SI is an academic assistance program that utilizes peer-assisted study sessions in an effort to improve grades and increase graduation rates.
Khadija does her best to connect with the students, thinking up metaphors or drawing out what she imagines is happening. Often, she will spend four to five hours reviewing material with groups of students on the eve of an exam.
Her unconventional methods seem to be working.
“I would not even hazard a guess as to the number of UM-Dearborn students Khadija has had an effect on, both directly and indirectly, through her unique talents and commitment to tutoring,” said Sheila Smith, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry.
As much of an impact as she has had on the students, Khadija believes they have given her so much more.
“The summer I did not do SI because I was taking classes was an awful, anxious summer. I missed the students and the subject so much,” she said.
“I hadn’t really known before that summer whether I could really be a teacher, though I enjoyed helping my students. But that summer, I learned that I loved it too much to be something else. I decided then that I wouldn’t let my goal of being a professor disappear.”