My introduction to PEAC

Ja'Brea Bennet | June 29, 2020 | University of Houston

I have always been a fan of big cats. I am a Leo, the lion, so big cats are kind of my thing. When I finally reached middle school, I became a Panther, in high school I was a Tiger and today, I am proud to say that I am a Cougar. To me, Cougar Tutors has been about more than being a student at the University of Houston, gaining volunteer hours, or adding to my resume, it has been about learning who I am.

I was first introduced to Cougar Tutors through an honor society. There I was trying to claw my way into friendships and into acceptance when Cougar Tutors fell from the sky… or more accurately, the classroom’s projector. When described, it felt like the perfect organization for someone like me and a short year later I then became the President of that perfect organization. This is the first lesson taught to me by Cougar Tutors. This sort of goes back to my elementary school motto: If you can dream it, then you can believe it, and you can achieve it. And I did.

As the president of Cougar Tutors, I have made it my priority to be more than a leader. I strive to be a team member. I strive to be understanding and conscious of my officer’s individual lives. This is the second lesson that Cougar Tutors has taught me. How to be a leader. I have learned that it is not about telling people what to do or being the smartest or the best at everything. On the contrary, I have discovered that being a leader means knowing who your partners are, specifically what their strengths are. Having now grown to know my officers, we

have expanded to become somewhat of a first-class task force, a Pride, if I am to express motif. It has been an interesting time to become president of a college organization. Since the pandemic began, we have all been trying to redefine what normal means to us. Currently, normal means waking up every day knowing that I have the power to make a difference in a child’s life more directly than ever before. We have since begun outlining our plans for online tutoring in the future. Our methods have included emailing current tutoring schools and potential tutoring schools, creating customized tutoring flashcards for students and tutors, and visual workshops for

students to view online. This pandemic, with its insistence on isolation, has brought out the true solitary Cougar in me and only made me stronger and more aware of my surroundings. Which leads to the third lesson and final: some blessings are in disguise. 

Being a Leo comes with its strengths and its weaknesses, but being a Cougar forever comes with growth. That old saying, ‘it takes one to know one’ presents itself when I think of my position as a tutor to Third Ward students. More fittingly the phrase would go, ‘it takes a student to know a student’. I will forever be a student. I will forever be learning and learning what it means to learn. Which is why I am incredibly grateful to be a tutor because in my lifetime of big cats, being a Cougar has been the most rewarding.