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31 Oct


An Interview with Veteran Tutor Donald Bici

October 31, 2016 | By |


Donald Bici, a current senior studying Petroleum Engineering at The University of Houston, sat down with Rachana Wood, Director of Professional Development, to discuss his time as an iEducate tutor.

Rachana: Thank you, Donald, for being a part of iEducate and sharing your experience. Tell us, how did you first hear about iEducate?

Donald: Thank you Ms. Wood! Well, It was my sophomore year in college and I really was looking to
try something other than engineering internships at the time. I searched the UH career services portal for other opportunities out there and that’s how I came across iEducate – now I’ve been an iEducate tutor for 3 years!

Rachana: What made you decide you wanted to work with iEducateUSA?

Donald: At first I was a little hesitant about the job, just because I didn’t really know what to expect. However, I was immediately drawn to the passion iEducate has towards the betterment of the children’s lives, it’s highly commendable. As the weeks passed, the amount of support I got from the elementary school teachers and iEducate is truly what made me continue being a part of the organization. As an immigrant, I understand what these kids are going through, they need some guidance and a mentor, just to get them on the right track.

Rachana: That’s wonderful! How has iEducate impacted you, and what’s your take away from it?

Donald: I’ve seen students who I work with go from not caring about school, to completely changing their demeanor to being hard-working students. It has made me realize how much of an influence we (college students) can be for these elementary school students. Some don’t have that figure to look up to, it’s like we give them that extra drive to work hard and they can get to the same place we are. As for something to take away, it’s given me a lot of patience, teaching is not as easy as people think!
Also, the professional development initiative at iEducate has provided me so much guidance towards my job search, resume building, interview skills that I feel I’m better prepared for the task. The mentoring has definitely made me more confident about my job search.

Rachana: Would you say your time with iEducate has made an impact?

Donald: Absolutely, I think what iEducate is doing is not only a great concept, it actually works! The student passing rates in math and science before versus after iEducate came to schools says it all. I just think what iEducate has done, and is currently doing is great for the education system, specifically STEM which the United States is generally lacking in. I enjoy making a difference in these students’ lives, just as I would’ve liked mentors do to me when I was in elementary school.

Rachana: Those are some great thoughts, Donald. Thank you again for your time, and for your commitment to the iEducate program. All the best with your upcoming interviews!

01 Oct


Expanding our Horizons

October 1, 2016 | By |


The iEducate team along with several members of the 2016-2017 tutor class

After the transformative results at Crockett and Braeburn Elementary schools, Blackshear Elementary successfully launched the iEducate program in Fall 2015. Beginning in Fall 2016, iEducate added an additional 6 HISD elementary schools (Sherman, Elrod, Kennedy, Kashmere Gardens, Scroggins and MacGregor) and has grown the team to over 80 new tutors!As a result of the increased demand for the program, iEducate has formed recruiting partnerships with engineering departments of major universities in the city. Some of the participating universities include Texas Southern University, University of Houston, Houston Community College, University of St. Thomas and the honors society Phi Theta Kappa. Faculty at these universities facilitate the recruiting process by actively promoting the iEducate program to their students, and by identifying & recommending high-achieving STEM-major students.

To keep up with the rapid expansion, iEducate has also grown its recruiting team. Audrey Buth, Process Engineer at LCY Elastomers, joined the recruiting team over the summer. Ms. Buth brings in years of experience in the oil & gas industry and is a Management graduate from the C.T. Bauer College of Business. She also holds a master’s degree in Chemical Engineering from University of Houston. Another addition to the team was Premanjali Lahiri, a Manufacturing Manager at Celltex Therapeutics Corporation. Ms. Lahiri is a proud Aggie and has a master’s degree in Biotechnology.

With its strong partnerships and dedicated recruiting & operations team, iEducate is gearing towards exponential growth over the next few years. “The iEducate program now reaches over 1,500 students per year, with plans to hit 3,500 by 2017,” said Dr. Roopa Gir, President of iEducateUSA.

12 Sep


Empowering iEducate Tutors through Professional Development

September 12, 2016 | By |


screen-shot-2016-11-16-at-1-50-27-pmThere are four pillars to the iEducate program: Tutoring, Mentoring, Summer Enrichment and Professional Development. While the first three are focused on the elementary school students, the fourth is geared towards the college student tutors. The primary focus of the Professional Development pillar is to prepare iEducate tutors for success as they embark on their own careers. This value proposition offers tutors a unique opportunity to meet individually with seasoned HR professionals across various industries who not only help review their resumes and cover letters but also provide them with guidance on job search and interview skills. In several cases, the first resume a tutor had prepared was for iEducate.


The professional development pillar is led by Rachana Wood, HR Manager at Shell Oil. Rachana brings in years of valuable experience in human resources and strategic guidance to all the iEducate tutors. Rachana emphasizes the importance of this initiative and said in a statement: “The primary aim of the professional development of our tutors is to help them bring out their accomplishments in a way that enables them to confidently present themselves to future employers”.


iEducate tutors are provided opportunities for leadership development through workshops and seminars. In the 2015-2016 school year, 25 tutors received over 30 hours of professional development and the opportunity to attend 2 seminars, one focused on ‘building their brand and market value’ (led by Karthik Rajan, mentor & advisor to social entrepreneurs) and the other on ‘team building and leadership’. In addition, 3 tutors who are studying Petroleum Engineering obtained summer internships in their field of study – which is highly commendable given the tough market environment in the O&G business.


Rachana is growing the professional development team to provide every tutor with a mentor in an industry pertaining to their major, and has already expanded the team to include Ryan Arnold, a project manager at Houston Methodist, and Natasha Bajaj, a financial analyst at DistributionNOW. If you are interested in joining the iEducate professional development team and lending your career advice to our college student tutors, please reach out to Rachana at

01 Jul


iEducate Expands Summer Enrichment to More Elementary Schools

July 1, 2016 | By |

iEducate held its 3-Day Explore! Science Workshop at Crockett, Blackshear, Sherman and Eliot Elementary schools from May 31 through June 2, 2016. The science workshop was an all-volunteer effort in collaboration with employees of Schlumberger, NASA, and Baylor College of Medicine. The program was designed around providing an exposure and enriching experience in science to the 3rd – 5th grade students of under-served elementary schools. The program was led by STEM-focused college and high school student volunteers, who carried out in-class lectures and activities on various topics designed to instill excitement around the earth, physical and life sciences (such as making a DNA replica using gummy bears and Twizzlers, or designing an electronic circuit from scratch).

On June 2nd, the workshop concluded at each school with an award ceremony for the participating students and their parents, during which the students led presentations about what they had learned over the three days.


iEducate also expanded its 3-week Bridge summer camp beyond Crockett Elementary this year to include Blackshear Elementary. The Bridge camp was also an all-volunteer initiative directed towards bridging the curriculum gap between grade levels, and keeping the students academically engaged throughout the summer, a time which otherwise would have been unproductive. The program was led by over 30 college student master teachers and over 100 high school volunteers who handled a classroom teaching environment with a mix of 3rd – 5th graders in small groups, providing a personalized learning experience to each elementary school student.

The Explore! Science Workshop and Bridge Summer Camp are integral parts of iEducate, which extend the program’s mentorship throughout the year and ensure that all students have the opportunity to expand their interests in math & science regardless of their economic status. Over 250 HISD students participated in this year’s summer programs!