Tutoring Program Encourages Bonds Between Claremont Students and Staff

By Vicki Molina-Estolano '11Contributing Writer

Before reviewing trigonometry, Mariam Tejeda (‘11) and her tutee, a stockman at the Pomona College dining hall, catch up with each other. Typical of their tutoring sessions, there is both conversation and information. There is a spirit of friendly collaboration.

Participants of the General Education Degree (GED) Tutoring Program at Pomona College are more than tutor and tutee – they are building a camaraderie that program founder Rachel Ramirez (PO ’11) argues should be fostered by the College Consortium itself.

The GED Tutoring Program works to strengthen relationships between students and staff members of the Claremont Colleges community while providing participating staff with free tutoring sessions in all subject areas of the GED. Receiving a GED is especially important to staff with goals of employment advancement – workers with a GED have advantages in wage negotiation, job retention and finding new job opportunities.

Ramirez said that this inaugural semester of the tutoring program has been a success. A total of 18 volunteer student tutors work to prepare five staff members to take the GED as soon as they’re ready. “This is an institution of learning,” she said. “It only makes sense for staff workers to have the same opportunity to have knowledge [as students].”

Currently, the Claremont Colleges provide financial assistance to staff members who want to pursue a college education, however they do not have systems in place to help workers that cannot pursue a college education because they do not have a GED.

“This is a need that should be fulfilled by the colleges,” said Ramirez.  “The colleges have support systems for workers that want to pursue a college education, but that help can’t be reached by workers that don’t have their GEDs.” Ramirez also explained the need for the program as a source of financial support for the participating staff members. The GED Tutoring Program pays for all of the prep books and testing fees for participants.

Until now, the GED Tutoring Program has relied on funding from the Pomona College Draper Center for Community Partnerships to cover the cost of GED prep books, and asks each of its tutors to fundraise $25.

“The idea is to ask five friends for $5,” Ramirez said. “This way, even people who aren’t tutors can play a part in helping these members of our community to achieve their educational goals.”

Tejeda’s views on the program highlight the big impact of this small effort. She tutors one hour a week, and her motivation is the enthusiasm her tutee for achieving his goals. “Rafael is always telling me, ‘Thank you for the opportunity,’ but this is collaboration. He is incredibly eager and incredibly inspiring. He has goals, and whether or not we tutor him, he will reach them. It’s just nice that he has this support system to help out as well.”

If you’d like to donate to the GED Tutoring Program or learn about participating, contact Rachel Ramirez at claremontged@gmail.com.