Meet a Retriever—Anna Jones, peer tutor

Published: Aug 3, 2023

a UMBC student poses with True Grit, the live mascot with festive black and gold balloons around

Meet Anna Jones, a first-generation psychology major on the pre-med track at UMBC. What started as a “nudge” by one of her professors wound up leading Anna to becoming a peer tutor with UMBC’s SI (supplemental instruction) PASS (peer-assisted study sessions) program—an experience that has changed her life and defined her experience as a Retriever. We can’t wait to hear all about it!

Q: What brought you to UMBC in the first place?

A: Hello! I am a psychology B.S. major with a minor in biological sciences on the pre-med track. I transferred to UMBC after my first year of college and fell in love with what UMBC had to offer.
I came from a very small honors college and wanted to be a part of a more diverse, larger, student body. At UMBC, I quickly learned that I was surrounded by goal-oriented, like-minded, and well-rounded students, and I was met by supportive professors who connected me to my higher self through opportunity and encouragement.

Q: What’s the one thing you’d want someone to know about the support you found here?

A: Academic support is within arms-length here. Resources are offered tailored to anyone’s needs as a student and it is not challenging to access.

Q: Tell us about someone in the community who has inspired you or supported you, and how they did it.

A: I’ve been inspired by a countless number of individuals here on campus. The highlighted person(s) would be my physics professor Dr. Lili Cui, my SI PASS supervisor Deborah Webb, the ASC (Academic Success Center) director Dr. Delana Gregg (Ph.D. ’19, language, literacy, and culture), and simply all of my peers in the SI PASS organization for the past three semesters. Dr. Lili was the professor I worked alongside as I supported her course through being an SI Pass leader. Dr. Lili has uplifted me by giving me honest academic advice and suggesting opportunities to further my leadership skills. She saw the leadership in me before I recognized it within myself.

Deb Webb and Dr. Gregg supported me extensively by being present through all of my success as an SI PASS leader. Deb Webb has provided me with skill building tasks and granted me access to resources that have been helpful to both my personal and academic self and career. Through her coordination of SI PASS, she has supported me through mentorship, organization, and communication. Dr. Gregg also supported me through words of encouragement and helping me become a part of a network that made it possible for me to help other students and faculty beyond our campus.

a group of presenters, peer tutors, and SI PASS representatives stand in front of a screen
Jones, second from right, stands next to Delana Gregg, third from right, and other members of the SI PASS team.

Q: Tell us about what you love about being a peer mentor and SI PASS tutor.

A: I wanted to give back to my community but didn’t know how, so I became an SI PASS leader and mentor. Through these roles, I was able to achieve my wish to not only give back, but connect with many elements this campus had to offer. I admire UMBC’s priority of peer education and wanted to extend that principle to others through my role as a student.

SI PASS is a free support resource for traditionally difficult courses which tend to be STEM or language related. SI PASS leaders are responsible for hosting regularly-scheduled study sessions throughout the week to help facilitate active learning among students enrolled in their designated course. We engage students in various learning strategies to support students in knowing what to learn and how to learn it.

a student dressed in black poses triumphantly in front of a presentation screen

As an SI PASS mentor, I serve as a role model to assigned new leaders, provide guidance on specific administrative and SI PASS skills such as completing planning sheets and logging data, offer support (motivational/emotional), and assist new leaders with setting goals and identifying resources.

What I love about being an SI PASS leader and mentor is the ability to give back to my community at such a large school. It helps me connect with my peers and professors in ways that I never imagined possible. I feel like a thread, sewing different bits of the campus together. I am grateful for the new skills I’ve developed through my experience and the meaningful connections I’ve made and have helped other students make during my time here.

Q: Since you’ve been a part of the UMBC community, how have you found support of your WHY?

A: I was suggested to be an SI PASS Leader by my former physics professor Dr. Lili Cui. This referral started as a nudge in the right direction but later turned into a life-changing experience for me. Becoming a part of this organization led to me presenting at my very first conference for the MDCLCA (Maryland College Learning Center Association) organization, which then led me to becoming a student representative. My professor, my supervisor, and my peer educators all aid equally in my evolution as a student. They have all done nothing but encourage me to be my best self, providing challenges for me to overcome and grow through.

What I love about being an SI PASS leader and mentor is the ability to give back to my community at such a large school…. I feel like a thread, sewing different bits of the campus together.

Anna Jones, peer tutor

Q: What would you tell other transfer students about what it’s like becoming a part of the UMBC community?

A: Being a transfer student as such a large university (compared to my previous school) can be very intimidating. It may require some elbow grease to build up the courage to become more involved on campus but you will come to find that the inclusivity of this community eases the tension. Becoming involved is easier than you may think and there’s countless options of helpful resources to point you in the right direction.

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UMBC’s greatest strength is its people. When people meet Retrievers and hear about the passion they bring, the relationships they create, the ways they support each other, and the commitment they have to inclusive excellence, they truly get a sense of our community. That’s what “Meet a Retriever” is all about.

Learn more about how UMBC can help you achieve your goals.

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