The first experience I’ve had teaching/tutoring was in my mom’s classroom. She was teaching a summer school class of third graders, and I would come in twice a week to teach them Italian. It was so much fun! I found myself so invested in their development, and flattered as they invested in a topic that was close to my heart. After college, I wanted to find a job that was just as fun as working with those third graders, and so Green Ivy really felt like the perfect place.
You grew up in Philadelphia and graduated from Stanford. What do you miss about Philly, and what do you love about California?
I miss weather the most, I would say. I love that it’s sunny and 70 degrees pretty much 24/7 here, but it can be difficult to know the difference between April and August, or June and November. If I’m not careful, I feel like I could mix up Christmas and the Fourth of July.
There are plenty of other things I miss: my dog, my neighborhood, the maneuverability of public transportation and how easy it is to get from state to state, the food, my family and friends…but there are also great things in California that supplement for a lot of things. My favorite would probably be the diversity of the vegan food. I became vegan during college, and so I did not realize how unique The Bay Area is in accommodating that type of lifestyle choice until I went home for breaks, or to Italy, and realized the options are extremely, extremely limited. We went to visit my grandmother in upstate Pennsylvania and went out to eat. I ordered a salad and politely asked the waitress for, “No cheese, no bacon, no bread, and no creamy dressing.” My mom had to apologize and explain that I was visiting from California.
You spend a great deal of time at Green Ivy helping students with writing, math and science. What is your favorite study trick for learning science?
Integrate it into your life! This is my favorite study trick for everything, but particularly science, because science really is everywhere. If you’re having trouble understanding how waves work in physics, watch a few YouTube videos about beach waves before you go to the beach with your friends. Look up UV rays and how they affect melanocytes so that as you tan, you can recount to yourself exactly how you’re getting that beautiful, bronzy tone. When your parents ask you how the beach was, tell them the mechanism through which tanning works. By attaching a difficult concept to something that is relevant to my everyday life, it gives me motivation to learn it, and retain it as well.
Outside of work, you do so many things (seriously!). Recently, you’ve started working on a healthcare services start up. Can you tell us a little a bit about why and how you saw the need for this?
Food is integral to health, but depending on your culture and your ability to access a diverse set of food choices, it can be difficult to eat healthily, or have the mindset that attaches healthy food to healthy living. Particularly for me, not until I was in high school did I realize that what I give to my body is what it gives back to me. If I give it junk, I will have healthcare issues down the line. However, I also realized that eating healthily is difficult if you aren’t in an area that breeds that culture (again, SO much easier being vegan here than at home!).
I saw the need for food access, as well as education and motivation for eating healthily, and am working on an idea to blend all three. My team and I are developing a product that brings healthy food and education into the households of those who need it most. We want it to be convenient, low cost, and most importantly, a habit that can be easily adapted into a family’s everyday routine.
How do you think your prior experiences contribute to your success at Green Ivy?
The biggest contributor is definitely my mom. She’s an amazing person, and by listening to all of her countless stories about her “kids,” I have learned so much about how to teach, and what it even means to teach. She has been a Philadelphia School District Teacher since before I was born, and is definitely an expert at her craft.
What is one healthy way you deal with stress?
It may sound a bit counterintuitive, but when I get really busy and need to focus to get things done, I schedule a pretty hefty workout plan for myself. In high school I was an athlete, and I think exercise and intellectual work really go hand-in-hand. If I am studying pretty vigorously, as it gets later and later, I am always tempted to gulp down some coffee and chug until the wee hours of the morning.
Instead, working out gives me a set bedtime: if I want to have the energy to go to the gym tomorrow, I have to sleep before a certain time. I also have to be more industrious with time, working efficiently so I can fit the gym into my schedule. It also gives me an hour or so to rest my mind: instead of watching TV on the couch I can watch it on the elliptical. Instead of texting on the couch I can text on the exercise bike. And if I’m feeling really motivated, I can go through Organic Chemistry notecards in-between sprints on the bike.
Any fun vacation plans or hobbies you plan to spend time on this summer?
Yes, I will be doing my favorite thing ever this summer: studying for the MCAT! After that though, I will definitely make some space for either a vacation or something fun to relax. My best friend from Philadelphia just moved to LA, so I will probably leave the testing center after the MCAT, get in my car, and immediately drive down to see him.
What is one thing you’ve learning in your time at Green Ivy that you use in your own life to manage your time well?
Making schedules with pretty colors entices you to look at your schedule more often. I know this sounds silly. It probably is very silly, but we’re like bees attracted to the cool purple and yellow tie-dye flowers and not the boring gray ones. I color-code my planner and it really makes a difference. My least favorite subject is my favorite color, so my eyes are attracted to look at it more often. The little things count!
Favorite breakfast: Banana with peanut butter (the crunchy kind with the peanuts inside of it. Yum!)
Favorite movie: The Lion King. Always and forever.
Favorite genre of music: Way too hard to answer! I do have a special place in my heart for songs in minor keys and with nice bass (either drums or the string instrument)
Favorite Philadelphia food: Mango waterice with a warm Philadelphia soft pretzel on the side
Last book you read for fun: Il Sentiero dei nidi di ragno (The Path to the Spider’s Nest) by Italo Calvino
Hobby that helps you relax: Dancing around my kitchen and cooking dinner