Thank You For Being Such A Vital Part Of Our Team, Siri. We Look Forward To Sharing More About You So Others Can Get To Know You Better!
Tell us a bit about your backstory and what lead you down your current life path.
My zest for education and life-long learning was initially sparked as I entered the newly built National Teachers Academy in 2002 as the very first incoming class. As I matriculated further into middle and high school at Perspectives Charter Schools, and finished my university studies at the Illinois Institute of Technology, I always had in the back of my mind how I can serve the youth who would come after me and contribute to the world overall. Throughout the years, I discovered that education is my true calling. Today, my new dream centers on assisting the youth of Chicago to live better lives for themselves by helping them attain academic and professional success.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career?
I’m Siri (cue the iphone jokes), a Chicago native, born and raised in the Bronzeville and South Loop community. I’ve spent my formative years immersed in the world of math and science, first with my father (who was a civil engineer) giving a tour of his office and showing my brothers and I some of his famous projects, and then my mother teaching me basic math and science concepts before I started grade school. Those experiences initially led me to pursue a career in civil engineering.
Share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started teaching/tutoring.
I was tutoring twin boys who were struggling in their math classes. They were 6 months – 1 year behind grade level, so their mother was in need of immediate assistance. Their mother took them to several tutoring centers, but she did not see any improvement in their children’s math proficiency or overall confidence, so she reached out to me. I started teaching them the core fundamentals of number theory and arithmetic, from the order of operations to the 1-12 times tables. I used a variety of techniques to solidify the fundamentals, such as watching videos and following along in a textbook, completing worksheet puzzles, and playing interactive online games. Slowly but surely, their math comprehension increases, and their mother noted that their confidence and desire to achieve academically increased significantly.
What do you enjoy most about teaching/tutoring, Siri?
The greatest thing I enjoy about tutoring is to see how having a quality education can change the trajectory of one’s outlook and prospects. Whether I am tutoring young children who are behind in their studies, tutoring engineering students to pass their courses to obtain their degree, or tutoring a high school dropout who wants to obtain his GED so that he can obtain gainful employment, these experiences teach my students that they can achieve anything they want to if they believe in themselves and back that up with hard work.
What do you like to do in your free time?
In my free time, I like to play soccer (self-taught since 2014), listen to music (I have several playlists, such 2000s throwback music, Japanese Pop, and Lofi Hip-Hop), play the guitar, and research self-improvement books and YouTube channels regarding fashion, car repairs, career development, and financial investments.
Tell about an amazing trip you took. Where did you go and what did you enjoy most?
In the summer of 2013, I went to an international summer camp in Beijing, China for 10 days. When I found out that I got the chance to go on this once in a lifetime event, I was euphoric. I could not wait to experience one of the oldest, unique, and intriguing civilizations in history-China. I thought to myself, “Will I like it here? Is China a different world from the USA? Will they like me here?” Whatever hopes, dreams, and nagging doubts were realized as I entered the bustling, hospitable city of Beijing and into the serenity of the Beijing International camp. Despite the tedious 24 hour trip from Chicago to Beijing, I knew that as soon as I stood foot inside the city and camp, I was in for the best roller-coaster of my life. Each day, I took Chinese culture classes. I learned calligraphy, paper-cutting, Chinese puppetry, Chinese opera, painting, Kung-Fu, and yoga. I participated in several field trips. I visited the Wangfujing, Hu tong, and silk market commercial streets, which are big hubs for Chinese business and shopping. I discovered how trading, bargaining, and buying works in China. I visited Chinese landmarks, such as the National Museum of China. The museum showed the extensive history of China, from its simple agricultural civilization to the bustling country of the modern ages. I went sightseeing, and I witnessed the marvelous spectacle of the Summer Palace, which was a royal garden and temporary dwelling place for China’s emperors. The sightseeing led me to the heart of China: The Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. The Tiananmen Square is the symbol of Beijing. Important government landmarks were there, including the National Museum and a huge portrait of Mao Zedong. I even visited the Great Wall of China, which was the most significant highlight of my trip. I even got a chance to walk on and climb up this impressive work of art. I am very grateful to have participated in this one-in-a-lifetime Odyssey.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? What is it and why did it resonate with you?
I really enjoyed reading We Beat The Street, which was an American autobiography written by The Three Doctors, Dr. Sampson Davis, Rameck Hunt, and George Jenkins. These doctors were boys who grew up on the rough streets of Newark, New Jersey. They faced the pressure of drug dealing, joining gangs, and committing violent crimes. One day, someone gave a presentation at their school regarding the opportunities available to them in the medical field, which inspired them to make a pact among themselves that they would become doctors. It took a lot of determination—and a lot of support from one another—but despite all the hardships along the way, the three succeeded. It resonated with me because it taught me that despite any obstacles that you encounter, as long as you set goals and surround yourself with like-minded individuals, you can accomplish anything.
Please share your favorite Life Lesson quote. How is it relevant to your life?
“A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” – Jackie Robinson
Humans are inherently selfish. It’s easy for someone to live a life for himself and only for himself. It’s easy to obtain your own necessities and leave others to fend for themselves. After all, no one helped you; why should you help someone else. I’ve struggled with these sentiments. I’ve haven’t had the best fortune in my life, having to struggle with many trying situations by myself. Nevertheless, if I continue the same cycle, I would not be better than those that did not help me. However, now that I have come out of the other side, I want to help honest-hearted ones who are struggling so that they won’t have to suffer like how I suffered. I would want people to learn from my story to inspire them to effect change in their own lives.