Congratulations to English Language Learners (ELL) Lead Tutor, Teresa Tarifa de Yensen, who was named College of Western Idaho’s (CWI) Staff of the Month for December 2022!
Tarifa de Yensen’s CWI journey began in July 2021, where she joined Tutoring Services and was asked to help support the Latinx Scholars cohort. She felt it would be a great experience working with students in that program and accepted the position. Part of her role is to work as an embedded tutor in classes and collaborate directly with instructors and students.
One of Tarifa de Yensen’s favorite things about working at CWI is supporting students of various backgrounds and cultures in attaining their educational goals.
“I believe in the role of community colleges in providing affordable and high-quality education to traditional and non-traditional students,” Tarifa de Yensen said.
Originally from the South American country of Bolivia, Tarifa de Yensen studied at the Universidad Mayor de San Andres in the city of La Paz where she earned her master’s degree in Biology. It was during that time at university she was first introduced to a career in education where she worked as an assistant in Biology courses and helped prepare materials for the labs. After her graduation from the university, she continued to work as an educator and researcher.
Throughout her career as an educator, Tarifa de Yensen has been able to work with all ages from pre-kindergarten to adults in college.
“Teaching is a transformative experience for the students and the educator,” Tarifa de Yensen said. “I am honored to be in a position to empower students to accomplish their educational goals and from there to serve our growing community and the country.”
It has been a rewarding experience for Tarifa de Yensen to work alongside CWI’s multilingual and multicultural students. She has been able to have a front row seat to witness students succeed.
Tarifa de Yensen tailors assistance to help meet the students’ needs at that particular moment and for that academic subject.
“It’s been awesome working with Teresa, she really knows how to connect with students to help motivate them to not give up,” said Health Science student, Ruby Araujo. “I have never been tutored before, and I didn’t think it was for me. But college has been different, and I am so glad I have Teresa to help me.”
Araujo, who is a Latinx Scholar, has been working with Tarifa de Yensen since Fall 2022. Tarifa de Yensen has helped Araujo adjust to life at CWI, learn how to use the College’s resources, like the CWI Library to find articles for research, and provide her with support as she navigates through her courses.
One of the classes Araujo had trouble with was Medical Terminology (HLTH 101). Being a bilingual student, Tarifa de Yensen came up with the idea for to utilize that to Araujo’s advantage because many medical terms are based off the Latin language which share similarities with the Spanish language. Together the two created flash cards with medical terms in both English and Spanish to help Araujo remember it easier.
This skill has not only empowered Araujo during her course, but she now has an advantage when applying for healthcare careers in the future because she knows medical terminology in two different languages.
"Teresa works tirelessly to support Latinx and ELL students,” said Tutoring Services Supervisor, Liz Fleshman. “She is patient and kind and dedicated to student support in tutoring. She goes above and beyond academic tutoring and supports students with self-advocacy skills and study skills. Teresa also serves as a role model to show students that they can be a minority and be successful in college.”
When it comes to stand out moments at CWI, Tarifa de Yensen says she has those types of moments everyday working with students. She loves playing a role in a students’ success whether it is big or small.
“Socrates said, ‘Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel,’” Tarifa de Yensen said. “I think tutoring is like that. You can give the students answers to specific homework problems, or you can teach them how to solve the problems on their own, how to grow academically, and eventually operate as independent scholars.”
Outside of CWI, Tarifa de Yensen enjoys spending time with her husband, and two sons and two daughters-in-law.
In her free time, she likes to spend time outside, whether it’s going on long walks, gardening, or taking photographs. She also loves learning about new things wherever she goes.