Leader Spotlight

Any exceptional educational program needs outstanding Leaders to make the program thrive. We are fortunate to have many of these Leaders with us semester after semester. Join us as we shine a spotlight on a few of our stars!

OCTOBER SPOTLIGHT

Jordan Moliver

What is your role in PLTL?

Histology Lab Leader and Supervisor

What do you personally get out of PLTL? Why do you participate in PLTL? What motivates you to continue in PLTL?

I have been in a variety of tutoring, coaching, and lecturing roles for over a decade. I find teaching incredibly rewarding.

What are your goals, your life aspirations, and your career plans?

I am currently applying to medical schools and hope to be a research physician.

Why do you think you were nominated? (Don’t be humble)

I put in a lot of time to prepare my sessions and am constantly looking for ways to help my students improve.

What do you do for fun besides PLTL?

Miami life is fantastic. I love all the little city hubs, going to concerts, and hanging out at the beach.

If you weren’t a Science major, what would you do with your life? (Even if you aren’t a science major… what would have done other than your major?)

Before starting my premedical post baccalaureate at FIU, I worked in the District Attorney’s Economic Crimes Unit. If I wasn’t a science major, I would continue doing legal work.

What advice would you give new leaders?

Learn your students and make the knowledge personal to their goals.

What advice would you give to students?

Nothing worthwhile comes easy. Don’t underestimate any information because obscurities have a way of being useful in the most unexpected of ways.

SEPTEMBER SPOTLIGHT

Elisabeth Lashbrooks

What is your role in PLTL?

I lead sections for Ecology.

What do you personally get out of PLTL? Why do you participate in PLTL? What motivates you to continue in PLTL?

This is my fourth semester leading Ecology sections and every semester I learn something new, retain more and developed a better understanding of it. Being a PLTL leader has made me more comfortable speaking in groups and having led seven sections, not counting the current semester’s, all with their own dynamics I have learned how to handle different scenarios ranging from having peers that refuse to participate to peers who talk so much they go off topic.

 When I participated in PLTL as a student I had a leader who shared his way of differentiating terms based on association, which stuck with me and helped me on an exam. I got involved with PLTL so I could do the same for my peers. Getting feedback from them keeps me motivated to continue; occasional a peer will share that they remembered our discussion during their exam and felt confident with their answer, or a peer will be struggling with a topic at the beginning of our discussion and then suddenly gets excited because it finally clicked for them. Both are nice to experience since it shows the effort is paying off. 

What are your goals, your life aspirations, and your career plans?

I’m set to start a master’s program for biology in January and I’m hoping that will help me decide which microbiology or cell biology related field I want to study at a higher level.

Why do you think you were nominated? (Don’t be humble)

I believe I was nominated because I’m willing to help with whatever is needed. When another leader isn’t able to lead their section and my schedule allows, I’ll cover it for them. This semester extra sections were needed to accommodate the number of students wanting to participate, so I volunteered to lead two additional sections.  

What do you do for fun besides PLTL?

I’ve developed a fascination with museums, zoos and aquariums, so whenever I have free time, my daughter and I will go explore a local one.

If you weren’t a Science major, what would you do with your life? (Even if you aren’t a science major… what would have done other than your major?)

I majored in finance for my first bachelor’s and have an interest in taxation law, so if I weren’t heading towards a science field I’d likely be working for the IRS.

What advice would you give new leaders?

One of the hardest parts of being a leader is that we facilitate the discussion rather than give answers, but it’s easier if you’re prepared. Group Discussion helps since it serves as a refresher on the concepts that apply to the workshop questions, but to indirectly lead our peers to the answers we have to know the material well.  Before I lead a workshop I reread the sections in the book, making sure I understand all the examples because they can often be related to the workshop question if the discussion get stuck. I also take note of questions I had or that peers have had in previous sections and try to have a plan of how to handle them. 

What advice would you give to students?

With PLTL, along with a lot of things, the more effort you make the more you’ll get out of it. If you come to the workshop without reviewing the material that’s going to be covered, you can’t contribute much and it reduces the benefit of active learning for both you and your peers.

AUGUST SPOTLIGHT

Amanda Cantor-Sanchez

What is your role in PLTL?

Currently I lead sessions and mentor other leaders. I am also the Chair of Recruitment, so I encourage students to become leaders and leaders to continue with the PLTL program.

What do you personally get out of PLTL? Why do you participate in PLTL? What motivates you to continue in PLTL?

I love the community surrounding PLTL. It’s a wonderful group of people who aren’t all going for the same career, so you get to meet people that have different interests. In PLTL we work to understand biology at a deeper level and I think that will help me when I take the MCAT. I continue with the program because I love the people I meet and I feel like it helps me stay on track to reach my goals.

What are your goals, your life aspirations, and your career plans?

I want to go into medicine, I am interested in long term patient care but I don’t know what specialty I would want to go into. I like the idea of having my own practice one day that focuses on holistic and preventative medicine. I am also interested in serving underrepresented populations such as homeless and rural communities.

Why do you think you were nominated? (Don’t be humble)

I think I was nominated because I’ve lead sessions for 4 or 5 semesters now and I turn in good folders. Also I try to do as much as I can to help the students and my fellow leaders. I do my best to substitute whenever I have a gap in my schedule and make my sessions feel like a family for the semester.

What do you do for fun besides PLTL?

I like making things, I think it’s so fun to think of a project and see it come to life. My favorite things are sewing and knitting because they both take time and a type of concentration that I don’t get to express through my normal studies. I also enjoy hanging out with my friends and family whether that be staying at home watching movies all day or going out and dancing, I love being around people.

If you weren’t a Science major, what would you do with your life? (Even if you aren’t a science major… what would have done other than your major?)

If not for science I think I would have liked to own a coffee shop where people can come, have good food and enjoy each other’s company.

What advice would you give new leaders?

You’re probably going to be nervous your first few sessions and that’s okay. Just breathe and talk to the students like you would any other person in your class. No one is expecting you to know everything and it is beneficial for the students if you just let them figure it out themselves. They know more than what they think they do, all you need to do is help them build their confidence. Once you do that they will contribute to the conversation and they can figure out the answers themselves.

What advice would you give to students?

You’re going to need to study more than you think you should. I know I’m done studying when the information is boring because I have been over it too many times. Once you are done studying for you, get together in a group of 2 or 3 people and listen to their questions, they might have thought of something you didn’t and vice versa. Also don’t wait until the last minute to start because you won’t give yourself the proper time to go over the material sufficiently and it won’t benefit you. Last but not least, become a PLTL leader you’ll go over the material again from a different perspective and it will help you gain a deeper understanding of the material that will help you when you go to take your upper division classes and graduate school entrance exams.

JULY SPOTLIGHT

Rosangela Garcia

What is your role in PLTL?

Currently my role in PLTL is a Research Assistant Peer Leader (RAPL). My group and I conduct research in Metacognition.

What do you personally get out of PLTL? Why do you participate in PLTL? What motivates you to continue in PLTL?

Well besides the amazing friendships, PLTL has given me so much personal growth. I chose to participate in PLTL because I wanted to help other students. My motivation to continue PLTL is definitely the drive to learn more; with PLTL you are constantly learning more and there are so many people you learn from.

What are your goals, your life aspirations, and your career plans?

My goal is to go to medical school and become a doctor. I’ve always been really interested in doing Geriatrics but we’ll see what the future holds for me.

Why do you think you were nominated? (Don’t be humble)

Well besides my great humor, I think I was nominated because I have been with the program close to 4 years.

What do you do for fun besides PLTL?

Besides PLTL, I go to the movies. Like a lot. I also watch a lot of cooking shows.

If you weren’t a Science major, what would you do with your life? (Even if you aren’t a science major… what would have done other than your major?)

If I wasn’t a Biology major, I would’ve pursued a major in Computer Science.

What advice would you give new leaders?

My advice to new leaders would be to get as involved as possible with the program. PLTL has offered me so many opportunities all because I chose to do more.

What advice would you give to students?

Take advantage of all your resources! A wise man knows that he knows nothing. Don’t be afraid to ask questions!

JUNE SPOTLIGHT

Michael Delamo

What is your role in PLTL?

GD Leader

What do you personally get out of PLTL? Why do you participate in PLTL? What motivates you to continue in PLTL?

I get to meet new people and continue to grow as a person. Being more confident in who I am and what I know and the fact that I’m helping people makes me feel better as a person.

What are your goals, your life aspirations, and your career plans?

My goal in life is just to help people as much as I can, when I can. I know you can’t help everyone but trying counts. As for career plans I want to continue my studies so I can become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst in 2 -3 years.

Why do you think you were nominated? (Don’t be humble)

I honestly didn’t see this coming. I guess cause I’ve been in the program for close to 9 years. I’m trying to break 10.

What do you do for fun besides PLTL?

I love going to the movies and going down to the keys to go kayaking.

If you weren’t a Science major, what would you do with your life? (Even if you aren’t a science major… what would have done other than your major?)

I would be an actor. I mean that’s still my plan B.

What advice would you give new leaders?

Being nervous your first time means you care about what you’re doing and how you’re going to do it. You will make mistakes and that’s fine. As long as you admit it and go back to fix it you will be a better leader for it.

What advice would you give to students?

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You can’t move forward unless you do. Be kind and thoughtful to your peers because they are in the same place as you.

MAY SPOTLIGHT

Richard Suarez

What is your role in PLTL?

I am a Research Assistant Peer Leader (RAPL). My role involves the development of a critical thinking assessment known as the Critical Thinking Assessment in Biological Sciences (CTABS). This project is meant to evaluate the critical thinking abilities of Peer Leaders.

What do you personally get out of PLTL? Why do you participate in PLTL? What motivates you to continue in PLTL?

PLTL offers me the opportunity to explore the various aspects of education research, exposure I would not normally have. I originally participated as a part of the office staff and was inspired by the program and all it does so I became a leader. When I saw the chance to conduct research, I chose to take it. I continue to be a part of the program because I believe in the effectiveness of the program on student performance; I also truly enjoy conducting research as it is eye-opening and has the potential to be impactful. The family community developed by the program is another motivating factor.

What are your goals, your life aspirations, and your career plans?

My goal is to attend medical school to become a doctor, specifically a neurologist. I also wish to continue my research, both in education (critical thinking) and HIV, in order to better my community.

Why do you think you were nominated? (Don’t be humble)

I believe I was nominated because of my hard work and progress on my team’s research project, which involves the development of a critical thinking assessment in biology.

What do you do for fun besides PLTL?

I attend salsa classes and conduct research in HIV.

If you weren’t a Science major, what would you do with your life? (Even if you aren’t a science major… what would have done other than your major?)

If I was not a science major, I would probably have pursued a degree in criminal justice to become a lawyer. I have always been interested in the justice system and I enjoy the idea of representing and defending my fellow man.

What advice would you give new leaders?

I would recommend to be a part of the program for as long as possible. Not only do you get the satisfaction of helping your peers succeed by facilitating discussions to increase their understanding of difficult concepts, but also it strengthens your knowledge as well as your ability to communicate clearly and effectively.

What advice would you give to students?

I would try and take any class with PLTL as part of the curriculum. The program makes you think about the material on a different level, increasing your understanding and retention.

APRIL SPOTLIGHT

Viviana Montalti

What is your role in PLTL?

I am a PLTL Peer Leader. My role includes facilitating learning and enhancing learning activities of students through making them think critically and making them think of how they are thinking when it comes to biology.

What do you personally get out of PLTL? Why do you participate in PLTL? What motivates you to continue in PLTL?

I enhance my learning by helping others with their learning. It personally helps me understand my thinking and how to reach conclusions having to do with academic concepts in a discussion and having my opinions and questions based on background knowledge. I participate in PLTL because I find it fulfilling and a good experience specially because it helps me remember concepts important in my major that will help my future understanding. I like helping people and doing PLTL includes helping people and helping yourself simultaneously. I want to continue PLTL because I make connections and friendships with people through a subject that I love and I am part of a family with other PLTL Leaders that encourage and empower each other to do better, learn better, and facilitate the learning of others effectively.

What are your goals, your life aspirations, and your career plans?

I wish to become a physician in the future and volunteer in places where healthcare is not easily accessible.

Why do you think you were nominated? (Don’t be humble)

I think I was nominated because I usually substitute for the leaders that need me to and I took up another session because sadly another leader could not finish the semester of PLTL with his students so I stepped in to help.

What do you do for fun besides PLTL?

I travel a lot, I go to concerts, I volunteer with different organizations and play 18 musical instruments.

If you weren’t a Science major, what would you do with your life? (Even if you aren’t a science major… what would have done other than your major?)

I would probably become a social worker and save up until I am able to open an orphanage abroad and help children in need. If not I would like to become a biology or math professor.

What advice would you give new leaders?

Do not stress yourself with too many sessions if you know you are taking too many classes, take a breath. Also do not stress when you have to organize your binder, just stay organized and follow directions. Get to know your students and build a bond with them so they get more comfortable in your sessions and that will lead them to participate more with the other students.

What advice would you give to students?

Don’t be afraid of your leader or asking questions. We are students too and we just want to help. Let us help you, don’t be embarrassed if you do not understand something.