Burning the Midnight Oil
october 11, 2009


Pettit Atrium

The opening of the Shields Science Center has been a welcome addition to the Stonehill community and since the start of the semester the Center’s social space, the Peggy and Ray Pettit Atrium, has been bustling with activity.

Groups of students often meet in the Atrium to work on projects together as other students sit quietly and study while sipping on their Dunkin’ Donuts coffee.

“The Atrium and the Science Center as a whole has really brought the science community together,” says biochemistry major Allison Colthart ’10. “On any given day, I can walk into the Science Center and see dozens of people I know. Even if they’re not in class or in lab, they come to the Atrium to study, grab something from Dunkin’ Donuts or just to hang out.”

“I’ve had many students tell me this new building is so conducive to studying,” says Professor and Chair of the Chemistry Department Louis Liotta. “There are always students studying and pursuing other academic endeavors in the Atrium at all hours of the day and night.”

Taking quick notice of this trend, Liotta and the rest of the chemistry and biochemistry faculty decided that hiring students to work as tutors in the Atrium each night would be a great benefit to students seeking help when faculty members are not available late at night.

Lab Manager and Instructor Barbara Anzivino reached out to five standout students who are excelling in the chemistry or biochemistry programs and all five are on board with the new tutoring program.

Each student works one night a week, Sunday-Thursday, from 9 p.m.- 12 a.m. inside the Atrium, helping students from a variety of science courses.

Pettit Atrium

“I was honored that I was one of only five people asked, as well as the only junior,” says chemistry major and physics minor Brittany Fox ’11, who works Thursday nights.

Chemistry major Sara Roderiques ’10 covers the Sunday night shift while biochemistry major Christopher Kelly ’10 works Monday nights. Evan Tallmadge ’10, a biochemistry major, can be found in the Atrium on Tuesdays and Colthart holds down the fort Wednesday nights.

“The students we selected to serve as Atrium Chemistry Tutors are not just excellent students but also have experience as teaching assistants for different chemistry courses and have received rave reviews from the students in those courses,” notes Professor Liotta.

All five students say they are surprised at the number of students who are taking advantage of the program as some recall having a line of ten students waiting to talk to them some nights.

Most students seeking help are from general chemistry and organic chemistry classes, which are the first two courses chemistry and biochemistry majors take at Stonehill.

“Depending on their high school experiences, some students find these introductory courses, particularly General Chemistry, very challenging. The pace and level of critical thinking far surpasses anything they have ever experienced,” says Professor Liotta. “We feel that we need to support these students anyway we can.”

Chris Kelly '10
Chris Kelly '10

As far as their tutoring styles, each student says they try and work through every question they are asked step-by-step. “When it comes to homework, normally the student doesn’t know how to start the problem. I help the student recognize what the question is asking and then ask ‘what do you do next?’ I believe that by coaching them along and not doing the problem for them, the material will sink in better so when they run across a similar problem, they will know what to do,” says Roderiques.

For Kelly, the best part of the job is seeing the answer click with students. “It’s amazing to see the physical change that occurs when a student finally understands a concept,” says the Goldwater Scholarship recipient.

“I’ve had many students come back to me for help a second or third time so it’s rewarding to know that I must be doing something right,” says Roderiques. “Atrium tutors are great resources. I would have loved to have someone available for help late at night when I was an underclassman.”

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