Second-year student Sophia Stellabotte is a chemical engineering major from Manhattan who likes to stay busy. When she’s not in the classroom, you can find her on the field as a member of the Case Western Reserve University women’s soccer team, at a meeting of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers where she serves as a sophomore representative, on a field trip exploring finance career opportunities with Wall Street Trek, or at her Weatherhead desk job. But every Thursday from 2:30-3:30 p.m., you’ll find her at Guilford House, where she volunteers as a tutor for Case Western Reserve’s Provost Scholars. Read more about Stellabotte.
What brought you to Case Western Reserve?
When I was looking at schools, Case Western Reserve seemed to offer the best balance of academics and athletics. I knew that I wanted to major in STEM, but I didn’t know what exactly. Case gave me the flexibility to figure that out. So now I’m majoring in chemical engineering and minoring in economics. And with soccer, I played wide forward my freshman year—this year, I was injured with a stress fracture, so I was out the whole season. That was tough, but the team played so well and I was really proud of the team and how far they were able to go this year. The team worked really hard and they absolutely killed it.
How did you become a Provost Scholars tutor?
Volunteering in high school was pretty important to me. I think it's important to give back, and that's just been something that’s been instilled in me over time. I had some experience tutoring and I knew that I wanted to be engaged with the broader Cleveland community, so when I saw the Provost Scholars program needed tutors, I thought it sounded like the perfect opportunity. It’s funny, even though I’m more of a STEM person, I actually end up helping the Provost Scholars with a lot of English work and writing. But my high school provided me with a solid foundation in the Humanities, so I’m able to help out.
What’s the most important aspect of being a Provost Scholar tutor for you?
For me, it’s one hundred percent getting to know the students. We talk about what's going on in their lives: what school has been like, how stuff outside of school is going, what’s going on with family and things, and what they want to do in the future. I just try to let the students know that I’m here to listen, and I really do care about what's going on in their lives. Many of the students have to deal with things that I am fortunate enough to have never worried about—they have a lot of pressure between the stuff going on outside of school and keeping up with school work. I know that many of them don’t have the same access to opportunities we have here at Case, so I want to do what I can to make sure those opportunities stay open for the students.
How has this experience shaped your perspective?
When I came to college, I realized how fortunate I was for all my life experiences and for growing up in a place like New York. Over time, I’ve realized how easy it is to get locked inside of a bubble—just like it’s easy to get locked in this campus bubble where you’re only seeing Case students and it’s easy to forget that there's an outside world. But through the Provost Scholars program, I've been able to connect with the city of Cleveland. It makes me think more about what’s going on outside of Case. I think it’s important to have that broad perspective. On campus, we have our classes, security guards, food, a safe place to live, but that’s not true for everybody and I think that’s easy to forget if that’s all you’re exposed to on a day-to-day basis.