Crunch time

10 straight hours of tutoring today, with 12 more to go throughout the week, bizarrely situated – that’s a few too many, given my less-than-optimal post-term mental state. Two graduate essays due tomorrow, and three more finals of eight yet to come. Our MCAT course also, conveniently, begins this weekend! Add to that remote research, promotional work, and the usual personal projects, and it appears that I should start icing my coffee and using my desk as a dry-erase board right about… now.

Coffee#peculiarconveniences #instantlyingestiblecoffee

Excuse me for being a bit “odd”, but this week, I “can’t even”.

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The denial of temptation that is graduate school

“I came up with the idea of the Kitchen Safe while completing my graduate studies.”

http://techland.time.com/2013/09/11/this-locking-cookie-jar-has-a-timer-to-save-you-from-yourself/

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Oxford Learning Don Valley – this is happening!

Despite the fact that these last two weeks have been hell for an assortment of reasons, something good did emerge from them – it turns out I’ll be able to, alongside the unbeatable Humayun Ahmed, create and run essentially the whole medical school training division of Oxford Learning. I don’t tend to post about these things, but I didn’t ever expect that, one day, I’d receive a phone call out of nowhere, and that, after one meeting, we would be given a large space for our own use, with access to free seating and printing, an advertising department, and other such luxuries, all with a truly miniscule royalty. Eventually, we may be able to build other Oxford professional school training divisions as well, and branch out to other Oxford campuses.

Our first project? Designing and teaching an eighty-hour MCAT prep. course from scratch. This is a truly singular opportunity to do whatever we want with the test – to teach it our way, to further structure our own curriculum, and to prepare ourselves for, potentially, founding an even bigger, even better initiative: something free, something international and multilingual, something completely counter to typical professional tutoring. My eventual teaching-related goal is precisely that: crafting a free platform that transcends geographical and linguistic boundaries, removing students’ academic fears and dispelling student-teacher power dynamics through casual, motivational one-on-one attention. Overly ambitious? Potentially. But that’s the aim for now, and running an entire branch of an already established business? Definitely useful to the skill-building I’ll need if I’m eventually to carry out something similar.

If you’re interested in joining us on our first ride, or know someone who might be, do drop me a line. We’ll be charging far less than most prep. courses, and we can, potentially, guarantee you a certain score boost.

Drop us a line if you’re interested in the LSAT, GMAT, or GRE, too!

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What’s the Next Step?


Doing my best to thoroughly analyze MCAT Verbal Reasoning and Biological Sciences passages in anticipation of a big teaching interview tomorrow.

Though I’ve, by now, been through similar content at least a thousand times, I’m preparing in advance for tomorrow, and getting seriously caffeinated. My palms are sweating and I’m second-guessing myself as I answer these questions, but I think I’m justifiably nervous. If I secure this and one more work opportunity that I’ve lined up, then tomorrow will be about more than just eliminating incorrect answer choices – I’ll be able to cross out something else that’s wrong, too: my tutoring and editing charges. I haven’t been financially stable enough to help most of my regular 30+ students and 5+ clubs for free in over four months, and it’s driving me crazy. I know I’m nothing special, and I know people can survive without me, but I once promised myself I’d never charge for what little I can do in the way of academic assistance, and I had to break that promise in 2013 just to support myself and my family.

If I manage to get this (and doing so isn’t easy,mind – some of my co-instructors, if I’m successful, will be Harvard Law professors with seriously impressive teaching experience), though, I’ll not have to distance myself from my peers by imposing financial demands on them anymore. I’ll be able to focus on expanding the University of Toronto MCAT, LSAT, and Peer Mentoring clubs, through which I hope to make more and more of the University’s students persuaded that anyone can achieve absolutely anything given sufficient will and adequate effort. I’ll also be able to work towards extensively reconstructing Top Tutors, which I intend to, with the help of entrepreneur mentors and a few friends, turn into an international, tight-knit, online and in-person platform for student-student support, academic help, and achievement.

It all starts with my scoring 43+ on the timed sitting of AAMC Practice Test 3 that I’m now in the middle of; tomorrow, I’ll also have to do well during my two-hour opportunity to discuss my teaching strategy, guide my interviewer through the passages below, and lecture on an undefined Physical Sciences topic.

Wish me luck.

MCAT

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To my second mother

I don’t believe that “family” is best defined by blood relations – I love my mother, my grandmother, and my cousin beyond bounds, certainly, but I don’t think everyone affiliated with me by birth and marriage is sufficiently mine to carry that “family” title.On the other hand, I don’t tend to call people my brothers and sisters lightly, either. You’re a sibling to me when we have undone all social convention together, and when I know that, regardless of where you physically are at the moment, you’re not going anywhere – Yasmin, Patrick, and Zeinab, for example.

That being said, last Saturday, I was lucky enough to celebrate the birthday of a woman who, though she isn’t family by blood, has always been my second mother.

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She’s one of the bravest individuals I know, and has always been cheerful – even when she was forced to enlist in one of the biggest personal battles an individual can undergo. Coincidentally, her girls happen to be my sisters, too: the older of the two is Amanda, of whom I’ve spoken here before, and whom I’ve shared absolutely every part of life with – my home, her home, her church, my cottage, elementary and high school, cancer in both our families, relationships, financial troubles – really nearly everything. She, Esther, and Phebe, relatives by blood, grew up antagonizing one another, so I joined in and snagged little sister Esther – who grew up fast, staying smart and beautiful – and cousin Phebe (who was already relatively grown up when we met, but was and is smart and beautiful) for my own, too, haha.Throughout all this, Ms. Martey, pictured above, has unconditionally loved and supported all three of us; I’ll leave things there and say that she looks absolutely gorgeous above, and that her appearance is not solely superficial, but also a reflection of her personality. I love her and her girls, and I hope that their lives – all four – will always be as beautiful as our mother was last Saturday.

How do you define family?
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Thank god, it was a dream!

Just awoke from my kind of nightmare: within it, I had slept through meetings for over 12 hours, then been woken up at 11:00 in the evening by my family, who’d invited several tens of members of the local Czech community over for cake, and were now telling me to “Stop crying and come out for a slice.”

Thoroughly relieved to re-enter reality.

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A publication!

Extremely humbled to say that I was able to contribute some Reading Comprehension-related writing to this project. Lead author Bobby Umar is an inspirational individual and acclaimed GMAT instructor, so I really am privileged to have had the chance to work with him.

http://www.amazon.com/Barrons-GMAT-CD-ROM-Bobby-Umar/dp/1438073348/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1391700128&sr=8-1&keywords=9781438073347

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