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January Tutoring Spotlight – Makenna Thibodeaux

How many years have you been tutoring with Emily? 

Emily and I have been together for almost 2 years. I started tutoring with Emily when I was in undergrad at UofL. Emily also graduated from UofL so we are both huge Cards fans. Emily wanted me to go see her class at UofL once so I took some science equipment and we had a little science demonstration. It was a lot of fun and the students really enjoyed getting to learn something new and do something that was hands on. 

Why were you interested in becoming a tutor?

I have a brother that has Down syndrome and he is around Emily’s age. I really missed my family being away in college and I knew spending time at DSL would remind me a lot of home and the people I love. I am really comfortable in the DSL community and I enjoy building relationships so spending time with the same person week after week was an  appealing part of tutoring to me. I was paired with Emily randomly and have been so thankful! At first I did not know if I was going to have enough time each week to tutor while being in school but it has always been an hour I looked forward to each week and it was a great time to love people around me that God placed in my life. 

What are some of your best memories or learning experiences with Emily?

The first time I had Emily read a passage to me- I was absolutely blown away! She is such a talented reader and that has been one of her strong suits always. We have a lot of fun when we play games with underlying concepts of math or high level reasoning. Some examples of this being card games or memory games. Emily also likes ‘Menu Math’. We have a fast food or restaurant menu and we calculate how much a meal would be. Emily knowns how to have fun and enjoy tutoring, making it really easy to be her tutor. 

Do you all get together outside of tutoring? If so, what do you do?

We love seeing movies together or getting Mexican food (we are both huge pollo con arroz fans). We have also had a couple cooking nights where we go grocery shopping together (Emily makes the list) and we cook together. It is a lot of fun to work on cooking skills together and just be girls. Emily recently moved into her own home and her confidence in preparing her own meals has grown so much. Emily is also an employee at Aspen Creek and occasionally I will come by for lunch when she’s working for a mid-day boost, (for me of course). 

How has tutoring made you grow as a person? 

Tutoring allows me to get to know someone beyond who I think they are superficially. When I look at Emily, I don’t see someone that has Down syndrome first. I first see someone who is a really good employee, someone who’s very disciplined in their day-to-day tasks, someone who is better at building relationships than most people I know, someone who will never forget a date, someone who reminds you to quit taking yourself so seriously, someone who doesn’t get stressed, and someone that can automatically make you laugh. Emily is a close friend to me and I wouldn’t have this relationship if it weren’t for the tutoring experience through DSL. 

Would you recommend others become involved (volunteer) in tutoring or programs and events at DSL? Why? 

Even though my schedule has gotten busier in dental school, I have realized giving an hour of your time weekly is not that large of a sacrifice. Some weeks, I think I get more out of tutoring than Emily does. Being a tutor is incredibly rewarding and a great way to build a new relationship. Please don’t be intimidated by the title, ’tutor’. This is a relationship with someone you can look to as a peer and work on simple skills with. You do not have to be at an incredibly high level of a subject to tutor. All you need is patience, an open mind, and to be a good listener. As a Christ follower, I have been called to be the hands and feet of Christ. You can read and learn about serving but GOING and DOING is totally different. Emily’s authentic joy is a pure reflection of my God’s steadfast, never-ending love. 

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