What a Difference a Peer Tutor Makes

Contact: Ilene Greenfield
Director of Media Relations
973-278-5400, Ext. 1-5122


How Faculty, the Center for Academic Success and
the Peer Tutor Program at Berkeley College
Help Students Succeed


See caption below.


“I am not good in math.” It is a statement that Berkeley College student and peer mentor Ramona Stefani hears a lot in the Center for Academic Success. She is one of about 20 students each semester who serve, along with the students’ professors, as part of an important network that helps students get closer to graduation through academic achievement.

“A lot of students are just afraid when they first come in,” Ms. Stefani said.

After Ms. Stefani became a member of the Berkeley College Model United Nations Club, the Club’s faculty advisor, Rahul Bedi, PhD, Chair, Management, Larry L. Luing School of Business®, recommended she become a peer tutor. “Professor Bedi strongly encouraged me to get engaged and share my knowledge with others at Berkeley,” Ms. Stefani said.

Professor Robert Alvarez, a faculty member in the Finance department of the Larry L. Luing School of Business®, encourages students enrolled in his courses to utilize the peer tutors. “The Berkeley College setup is like having a big open door. It is a real pleasure to work with the peer tutors. Peer tutors give the students confidence,” Professor Alvarez said.

Students Can Relate to Peer Tutors

Most peer tutors have taken the same courses from the same faculty members as the students they tutor.  Peer tutors also can be “embedded” in the classroom. They are very familiar not only with the course content, but also with that particular professor’s style and academic expectations. Faculty also share study guides as an additional resource for the peer tutors, who receive training before they begin.

“Students often relate better to the peer tutors than with a professional tutor,” said Patianne Stabile, DA, Director, Center for Academic Success, Berkeley College in Midtown Manhattan. “We have a wide variety of peer tutors from so many different backgrounds that any student can relate to.”

Rajiv Wallace likes math. The professor he had for a course in statistics recommended he become a peer tutor. Mr. Wallace, who expects to graduate with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Management – Financial Services in December 2018, notes that peer tutoring has additional benefits.  “I like helping people,” he said. “It is nice to know people who need a little more guidance or direction come in here and you can help them with that. They get a different perspective and different insights. They get inspiration.”

Photo Captions: Top: Gathered in a familiar place to help students succeed, the Center for Academic Success at Berkeley College in Midtown Manhattan, are (left to right): Ramona Stefani of Manhattan, Peer Tutor, Class of 2018; Robert Alvarez, Finance, Larry L. Luing School of Business®, Berkeley College; Alfred Grannell of Brooklyn, Berkeley College student, Class of 2018; and Rajiv Wallace, Peer Tutor, Berkeley College, Class of 2018. Bottom: Lisa Boyd of Manhattan (left), Berkeley College student, Class of 2019, often returns to the Center for Academic Success at Berkeley College in Midtown Manhattan when she feels she does not grasp something a professor presents in class. With her is Teshwar Gopaul, Developmental Education, Berkeley College School of Liberal Arts, who teaches mathematics.


Teshwar Gopaul, Developmental Education, Berkeley College School of Liberal Arts, teaches mathematics. “Unfortunately, the mere mention of the word (mathematics) causes fear and anxiety in some students.  Their high anxiety entering the math class is fueled by misconceptions and bad prior experience,” he said. “I work hard to help students develop logical thinking skills, quantitative literacy and meet the course objectives. I also focus on helping students learn how to learn. The challenges students face in math courses is different from other courses and the Peer Tutor program is a great benefit to them.   

What Students Have to Say

Two students who utilize peer tutors in the Center for Academic Success at Berkeley College regularly are Lisa Boyd and Alfred Grannell. Ms. Boyd is proud that her grade-point-average qualifies her to be on the Dean’s List. 

“Sometimes what is written on the board happens too fast in the classroom or is difficult to see,” Ms. Boyd said. “If I felt I did not grasp it, or was confused, I come for help to make sure I understand the questions, to get some direction, or to review changes I made to a homework assignment.”

Mr. Grannell always dreamed of going to college, but knew that where he was born, in Kingston, Jamaica, that would not be possible. He emigrated to the United States in 1993.

Mr. Grannell began using the Peer Tutor program when he wanted to clarify what he was learning in the Principles of Management course after he enrolled at Berkeley College to earn an Associate in Applied Science in Business Administration. “At first I felt fear, being in my 40s, but found other older folks, and they made me feel comfortable,” he said. “Sometimes when I doubt myself, they give me confirmation,” he added.

After earning that degree in 2014, Mr. Grannell also earned a promotion where he works, and in 2017, Mr. Grannell became a U.S. citizen. He is on track to graduate from Berkeley College with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Accounting in the spring 2018 semester.

“Success means having a dream and seeing it come to fruitfulness,” Mr. Grannell said. “If you have a desire, education is a key. Build yourself from the ground upward. Go as far as you can go. You have to have a desire to overcome obstacles.”

- End - 

To see high-resolution images of the above photos go to:
Bottom: http://berkeleycollege.edu/press_release_images/LisaBoyd_TeshwarGopaul.JPG



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