Tell me a little bit about yourself and your academic background.
Neelesh: I can say that I inherited my passion for teaching from my family where I am a third generation teacher. As I developed my skills and earned a Masters in Industrial Engineering, I came across many topics where I overcame my own struggle. I try to apply my own learning methods from those struggles to help other students.
Walid: I attended the University of Minnesota and the University Pennsylvania where I studied Applied Physics and Mathematics. I worked as a Patent engineer for an intellectual property law firm for a couple years to later realize that law was not something I was interested in pursuing.
How did you begin teaching and what are your favorite subjects to tutor?
Neelesh: The very first time I tutored was in 11th grade but I started teaching formally during grad school where I worked as teaching assistant. During this time, I taught subjects like statistical analysis, design of experiments, and MS Excel. It was a fascinating experience as I probably learnt as much while teaching as I did learning on my own. Statistics and all Math topics are my strongest subjects and I love to help others in these areas.
Walid: While attending the University of Pennsylvania I was given the opportunity to co-run the Johnson’s Foundation Summer Research Program for gifted High School and college students. The Summer Program provided students interested in pursuing medicine with guidance and tutoring sessions in sciences. I personally don’t have a particular subject that I like to tutor more than another; I have taught from AP Biology, Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics to SAT’s, GRE’s, MCAT’s and GMAT’s.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Neelesh: Ten years is a big span. I am not super ambitious but I would like to hone my teaching skills for a wider range of students, such as accounting and science. Besides teaching I would like to find more tutoring opportunities. For me, it would be important to assist students in the right stage so that they can decide on their career with mmore confidence.
Walid: I do a have a profound and sincere love for all the sciences and helping people, medicine became a natural choice for me. Ten years from now I see myself working as a general practitioner in some low income Area.
What advice would you offer to younger students with similar aspirations?
Neelesh: Make all concepts very clear and do not get lost in just solving thousands of problems. In my 12th grade, I was learning calculus and being a new subject I tried to solve as many problems from the text. In my mid-term I got a reality check of clearing my concept so that I can solve same problem that can be asked in different ways.
Walid: I always tell my students to look at the big picture, work and your weaknesses and develop strong basics in whatever field you want to pursue. In the beginning you might not see fast positive results but what really matters is the natural progression and steady improvement.
Which of your accomplishments or awards makes you the proudest, and why?
Neelesh: One of my students who was barely passing 10th grade math became highest scorer in his school. It did not happen overnight but I felt really good to see my student believed in me, follow my directions, and succeed. Slowly but surely, he outscored rest of the students in the school.
Walid: I take a lot of pride in helping my students accomplish their goals and get accepted to their dream schools. This year three of my current students got accepted to Harvard, Columbia and Princeton.
Do you have any successful study tips or strategies that you find especially helpful for your students?
Neelesh: Making short notes on the items in which the student struggles and simply go through those notes in your idle time, such as: riding the bus, waiting for a class etc. In my case, it helped me posting these notes on the mirror and back of my calculator.
Walid: The most important advice I can give students is to never give up and work on your weaknesses, practice makes perfect! Not many people were born gifted—at least not me!— hard work and perseverance can make up for such flaw.
Who inspires you? What do you find inspiring about this person?
Neelesh: My grandfather. He used to commute 2 hours one way to do a volunteer teaching job. I probably do not have same passion but I definitely striving for it. Two of his students went on to come into top 5 percentile in national accounting exam. Both gives credit to my grandfather for creating their interest in math at an early age.
Walid: My parents are my inspiration, they have installed in me the proper work ethics, discipline and the desire to succeed since a very young age. They have accepted me for who I am and embraced the fact that I was not a perfect student, encouraged me to work on my weaknesses and never give up. They always encouraged me to ask for help when needed and warned me that ignoring a problem never solved anything!