Chemistry, English Major Yoo ’15 Coordinates WesReads/WesMath Program, Korean Dance Group

Angela Yoo '15 is co-coordinator of the tutoring program, WesReads/WesMath, which allows Wesleyan students to tutor at two different local elementary schools. (Photo by Olivia Drake) 

Angela Yoo ’15 is co-coordinator of the tutoring program, WesReads/WesMath, which allows Wesleyan students to tutor at two different local elementary schools. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

Q: Angela, where are you from and why did you choose Wesleyan to further your education?

A: I am from Nanuet, New York but I went to a boarding school called Phillips Exeter Academy. I chose Wesleyan because I was intrigued by how people were given the freedom to pursue their interests, no matter how different these interests might be. I was also attracted by the collaborative atmosphere and how people seemed to encourage and support their peers.

Q: What are you majoring in?

A: I’m double majoring in chemistry and English, and I hope to write a thesis on non-beta lactam inhibitors of beta-lactamses. This entails synthesis of potential inhibitors as well as investigating the efficacy of these compounds through enzyme kinetics. I have been working in Professor Pratt’s lab in the Chemistry Department since sophomore spring. I chose to also pursue English because I was really interested exploring the different stories that people tell, the various ways in which they tell their stories and how we understand them.

Q: You’re currently the co-coordinator of a tutoring program called WesReads/WesMath. Tell us a bit about this program.

A: WesReads/WesMath allows Wesleyan students to tutor at two different local elementary schools. More than 70 Wesleyan students volunteer through the program and we help teachers with classroom activities or work with a small group of advanced learners on a math or reading curriculum that we developed or organized.

Q: How do the Wesleyan students and elementary school students benefit from this program?

A: Tutors and students mutually benefit from this relationship. I find that when the elementary school students are encouraged to collaborate on problem-solving or participate in discussion based reading, they are more excited and engaged about the material and concepts. For a Wesleyan student, the opportunity to physically leave campus and work with younger students is a refreshing and gratifying experience. It allows for a wider perspective and a greater understanding and connection to the community that exists outside of Wesleyan.

Q: Do you have other teaching or tutoring experience?

A: In high school, I did a similar tutoring program where I would work with small groups of third graders. We would read a book together and have group discussions. This is what initially got me interested in working with students. I worked as a TA for an organic chemistry lab course and I thought it was a really great experience, especially because I had been in a student in this course. As a TA, I learned how the same concepts could be understood in different ways by individuals. Communication/ dialogue is very important in learning and teaching. Being in lab for four hours a week as a TA allowed me to appreciate the teachers and their dedications as well as the students’ enthusiasm.
(I also learned how hard TAs work to facilitate the course!)

Q: Tell us about the Korean Dance group you co-founded. How many students are in this group. Do you need dance experience? Where do you practice and perform?

A: Hea-Ream Lee ’15 and I co-founded the Wesleyan Korean Fan Dance group last fall. There have been around a dozen students who have expressed interest and have joined in our dance practice. Although Hea-Ream and I both have dance experience in Korean Traditional Dance, many of our members do not have prior dance experience. We usually practice in Fayerweather, although sometimes if the weather is nice, then we will practice in the CFA courtyard. We have traditionally performed twice a year, once a semester. We perform during the Korean Culture Show and Mabuhay, Wesleyan’s annual Asian/Asian American show.

Q: What are your favorite classes this semester? And what classes have been most instrumental to your education at Wesleyan?

A: Currently my favorite classes this semester are Biochemistry and Advanced Inorganic Chemistry. Although they are both are rigorous courses, the concepts they cover are different but complementary. Biochemistry is also relevant to the research I do so it is has been a really interesting class. One of my favorite and most influential classes was Advanced Nonfiction Workshop with Professor Lisa Cohen. The way she taught me to appreciate the complexities and contradictions of stories, reading, and writing changed the way I approach almost anything. It was a truly inspiring class.

Q: You’ll be graduating this May! What will you miss most about Wesleyan and what are your future plans?

A: Of course, the thing I will miss most about Wesleyan is the people. I have met phenomenal friends, people who challenge me and have changed me. I am grateful that I was able to meet these people and that knowing them has allowed me to become who I am. But somehow, it doesn’t feel like a coincidence that we ended up here in the same place at the same time. After graduating from Wesleyan, I hope to attend medical school. However, my plans immediately after Wesleyan are not set and I am open to different possibilities.