Lead at Potencia: Jake Lattanzi @Tufts University
My name is Jake Lattanzi, and I’m the Chapter Leader of Potencia at Tufts University! I’m a junior at Tufts, and I study biology on the premedical track. In my free time, I enjoy being active. When the weather is nice, you can find me jogging around campus or hiking in the woods. I’m also involved with music at Tufts. I’ve played the clarinet for 11 years, and I currently play in the Symphony Orchestra on campus. I love meeting new people and spending time with my friends.
I first learned about Potencia at the end of my freshman year. I was a math tutor throughout high school, and I always thought it was a great experience. The advertisement for Potencia reminded me of the engaging relationships I had formed with my students, as well as the sense of satisfaction I had derived from watching them grow. Social restrictions were just starting to be put into place due to the pandemic, and I was intrigued by the opportunity to work again as a tutor, bu
t this time in a virtual setting. I remember feeling anxious to teach English as a second language, as I had never done this before. At the same time, I was enthusiastic to take on a new challenge and try to apply my skills to make a difference in my community. It also helped that, from the very beginning, Amanda and Jun made me feel confident in my ability to be an effective tutor and supported me throughout my time tutoring.
Shortly after beginning my lessons with a lovely woman named Marta, I realized that there were some aspects of the Potencia classroom model that I really appreciated. First, I was granted a significant amount of independence in my lesson planning. I had the responsibility of being aware of and sensitive to my learner’s needs, but I had the freedom to address those needs as I saw fit. This autonomy was refreshing as a tutor, and I felt that I could more efficiently respond to my learner’s feedback as we continued with lessons. Furthermore, the capacity to be sensitive towards my learner allowed me to form a more meaningful connection with her. I find it immensely rewarding to bond with my learners, and for them to apply what we’ve covered in class to be able to talk about their own experiences. After the first few weeks of lessons, I remember Marta was able to tell me—albeit in simple terms—about her Brazilian identity, and she even gave me some local restaurant recommendations for her favorite Brazilian cuisine! She was excited to talk to me using what she had learned, and as a tutor, there is nothing more meaningful than that.
After a few months of tutoring, Amanda and Jun offered me the position of Tufts Chapter Leader, which I gratefully accepted. In this role, I helped them to structure the Tufts Chapter as well as carry out tutor recruitment and tutor relations. While it has been difficult over the past year to organize social events, I’m very excited this year to connect with the other Potencia tutors in-person. An important part of the Chapter Leader position is getting to know each member of your chapter, and I’m looking forward to planning events that will foster a sense of community among the tutors at Tufts.
In the time I’ve spent at Potencia, I’ve learned how to express myself in a clearer and more efficient manner. Working with ESL students requires you to be concise in your speech, and I think that this is a useful skill in a variety of other contexts. I’ve also come to more fully understand the problem that language barriers pose for immigrants in the United States. Seeing firsthand what tutoring can accomplish for my learners has made me more passionate about doing my part to help them integrate into their new communities.
I would advise new tutors not to worry too much about perceived lack of experience. At Potencia, there’s a team to support you at every step in the journey of your tutoring, whether you’ve taught ESL before or tutoring is entirely new to you. For Chapter Leaders, my advice is to approach the position with energy and creativity. Potencia is a young organization that is just taking root in a variety of college campuses. Your ideas of how to establish and maintain a chapter are critical to this process. We need your determination to create a sustainable community of tutors that will make a lasting impact on the learners they serve.
Working with Potencia as either a tutor or a Chapter Leader is a rewarding experience that benefits both you and your community. If you have any questions about what it’s like to fulfill either of these positions, or if you have any other questions for me, I’d love to talk with you! You can send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or find me on Instagram @jakelattanzi.