Paul Savala | Providing Help So Others Can Achieve More

Document created by Sara Jo Lee on Mar 22, 2020
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Paul Savala shares what drives her to achieve more.
My Journey to #AchieveMore
As a young graduate student I taught a math course aimed at students who struggled the most. Obviously I wanted the students to all succeed, but I thought of myself primarily as an "mathematics instructor". My duty was to help them learn about graphing lines, factoring polynomials, and other abstract mathematical topics. On the first day of class, a student from Saudi Arabia came up to me and said that he didn't know the English vocabulary for all the mathematical terms he had learned when he was younger, and asked if I could help him. I gladly agreed, and continued to meet with him throughout the semester. I never thought much of our meetings, and felt like I was simply doing what instructors are inspected to do. At the end of the semester, this all changed. The student came up to me to thank me for my help. I brushed it off and told him it was no big deal. He replied that while it was "no big deal" for me, he had been dreading this course. He failed it once previously, and knew that if he failed it again it would likely mean his returning home without a college degree. His two siblings were engineers, and he dreaded returning to his family a college dropout. My help made him believe that success was possible and achievable. I have kept in touch with this student throughout the years, and he went on to complete Calculus 2, receive his Bachelor's degree in Computer Science, and find a fulfilling career. My experience with this student showed me that what may seem small and simple to us is often far more perilous and consequential to our students. His journey and growth inspires me every day to give my all to my students, because for them, it is a big deal.

What Drives You to #AchieveMore?