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A high school teacher once said to me, "Never let school interfere with your education." These words have always inspired me and shaped the decisions I have made in my collegiate and professional careers. The idea of expanding my knowledge base beyond in-classroom subject matter led me on a path towards self-discovery and instilled in me a passion for practical application of theories and perspectives. To that end, I look for situations that provide me with the opportunity to explore questions that will produce results aligned with my interests and experiences.

School and art have played an important role in my development; I always viewed both as my ticket out of the inner city and on to bigger and better things. I attended the High School of Art and Design in midtown Manhattan. I attended the University of Southern California (USC), where I received my undergraduate and graduate degrees. My bachelors is in Fine Arts with a minor in sociology. This combination taught me to understand interpersonal dynamics and develop effective strategies to work with people.

Dissatisfied with my in-classroom collegiate experience, but still interested in exploring a career in the arts, I decided to pursue a Masters in Public Art Studies. This discipline taught me the importance of understanding a user group's needs in order to work with them to satisfactorily deliver services and effective use of physical space to transform a community. Halfway through the program, I realized student affairs was my career path, and I decided to enroll in USC's Postsecondary Administration and Student Affairs (PASA) Masters program. The PASA program provided a strong foundation to understand higher education. I began my professional student affairs career right before I completed the program, and as my career progressed, my professional journey shifted my focus from finishing the PASA program to obtaining a Doctoral degree. My intent is to publish books and articles on the subject and develop best practices to help fraternities and sororities better engage and support students and provide more holistic experiences to their members. This research will support the consulting work I have begun with some national fraternities and sororities, as well as build my leadership development and training skills.

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Rafael’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: University of Southern California - Bachelors, Fine Arts

Graduate Degree: University of Southern California - Masters, Public Art Studies


Art, museums, traveling, baking

Tutoring Subjects



Art History

Conversational Spanish




Social Sciences

Social Studies


Spanish 1

Spanish 2

Q & A

What is your teaching philosophy?

I believe teaching should be an engaging experience for both the teacher and the student. I believe that learning is a circular process, where I stand to learn as much from my pupil as she/he will learn from me. I like to make the classroom environment fun and I always encourage my students to question knowledge and research information to form their own positions.

What might you do in a typical first session with a student?

I like to learn something about the student, as well as share a little bit about myself. I think it is important to establish a personal connection. I also like to set expectations and learn the student's goals for our time together. This allows me to customize the tutoring experience that meets her/his learning needs.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

I like to engage my students in conversations that let demonstrate their level of understanding about a subject. I believe that while a person may not well versed in a subject, they have the ability to process information and context clues to help him/her understand the material. I like to ask students to explain the concepts we are studying so I can see how well they are learning. I like to use social media and technology to facilitate learning outside of the classroom.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

I like to find practical application of knowledge to everyday life. I think the more we understand how a subject can fit into our daily routines, the more we think about the subject, the more we can understand it, and this in turn, helps us feel comfortable with the subject matter.

If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?

I like to understand where the breakdown in understanding the concept is occurring in order to help the student grasp the subject. I think it is important to go at a pace that allows the student to master the subject matter.

How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?

I think sometimes students read to get through the material without paying attention to the views expressed. Sometimes, the reading may be a bit dense and requires assistance in understanding. In either situation, I like to ask students to take their time reading and explain to me the idea(s) expressed in a passage. I ask them to provide evidence to support their points of view.

What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?

I like to understand the level of understanding a student has on the particular subject at hand. This allows me the opportunity to focus efforts on the areas the student is struggling to understand, and use the ones he/she is more proficient with to help him/her maximize his/her learning.

How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?

I think it helps when a student can see the practical application of a subject to everyday life. This process allows the student to gain a better understanding and increase her/his confidence on the subject. As confidence increases, the student becomes more excited about the subject.

What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?

I like to ask students to explain to me how they arrived at a solution, I like to give them similar problems to solve, and I like to ask their thoughts on the subject we are studying, sometimes offering a differing opinion to see how she/he responds. This can help me understand how well the student understood the material.

How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?

I like to provide compliments and praise their progress. I think it is important to let a person know when he/she is doing a good job. I like to ask them questions related to the subject and let them arrive at the answer.

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

I like to ask the student the type of assistance he/she needs to learn the subject matter. I also make it a point to understand the assignment in order to measure how well the student is performing and learn his/her areas for improvement.

How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?

I like to get a feel for the student's personality and make sure my style matches the student's own. I like to ask how he/she prefers to receive feedback, and I also observe his/her non-verbal signs to adjust my approach.

What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?

The materials I use depends on the learning style of a person. I like to use social media, technology, pictures, words, movement, writing on a board, and presentations (i.e. PowerPoint), to name a few.

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