My interest in volunteering is to help younger folks who are hoping to get a job in the business world. Before I retired five years ago, I was CEO of a Wheaton-based business that did actuarial work. I have a strong math background, so I’ve been helping students improve their math skills with one-on-one tutoring.
My company donated our computers to PRC when we upgraded our PC’s and a number of my staff did some volunteering. It was a natural move for me to become a PRC volunteer when I retired.
The first person I tutored was working towards her bachelor’s degree, but she was struggling with a business statistics class. She was taking class online, and we were able to use the online materials to understand the concepts. I got her through the class, and she did very well!
Another woman I tutored was from the Middle East. Because of the culture she grew up in, she was deprived of educational opportunities. We needed to review and cover a lot of the basics—building from the ground up. Over time she made good progress. Eventually she was able to pass the one math class she needed in order to get her degree. Now she wants to learn a little higher math, so I’m putting together materials for her. PRC has a lot of resources available, including workbooks in various math disciplines; but I also customize my tutoring to meet the needs of my students.
One young man I worked with was trying to get into an apprenticeship—I think it was in metal working—where he would need math to measure things accurately. He needed to pass a basic math exam to qualify for the apprenticeship. We worked together for about six months. He clearly was struggling when we first started working together, but he worked hard, and he was very committed to passing that exam. And he did! He was accepted into the apprenticeship program. I felt very good about being able to help him achieve his goal. It was a very satisfying result.
Currently, I’m working with a young woman from Eastern Europe who earned an education degree in her native country and now wants to pass the Illinois test for becoming a teacher. I’m helping her with the math portion. She’s a very bright woman, and she’s well positioned to do whatever she wants to do when she has her certificate.
I’m very comfortable with math. I know this stuff pretty well! I also appreciate how math works in the real world. Some of the best paying jobs in the business world use math skills. I understand and appreciate math more now than I did even when I was in college. I think it’s because I’ve always been active and involved in using math and learning new things.
One message I would give to anybody, but especially to younger students: never stop learning! Always take advantage of opportunities to learn something new.