Humans of Hume

Soraya Fereydooni

Soraya Fereydooni, Humans of Hume

Year?  Senior

Major? Biology

Q: Why did you initially come to the Hume Center?

I'm a big fan of the Hume Center. I've been going there since freshman year.  Because I’m an international student, writing was a significant challenge for me. Even after PWR, it took me a while to get confident in my writing abilities, and so I would go to Hume for grants and scholarships and reading assignments. It eventually evolved into a lot of external things. This year I went to Hume a lot because of my personal statement [for medical school]. I was in Bolivia for the summer, and even then I would reach out to the Hume Center and work online with tutors. And then, for medical school interviews, I would work with speaking tutors. So yes, Hume has definitely been a big part of my undergraduate experience. 

Q: What made you want to come back to Hume?

It was dependent on the tutor. Once I got with a good tutor [that I worked well with], I would just consistently try to book appointments with that particular tutor. It was really, really good. Sometimes I would go, and I would need big idea feedback, sometimes I would need nitty gritty feedback. The tutors are just very knowledgeable. I would look up their bios and see that one person was an expert in say personal statements, so it was just really nice to go to a person who really, really wanted to help you. To be honest, I couldn’t have gotten through Stanford without it.

Q: What would you say to someone who believed tutoring was remedial?

Hume is literally the most low stakes place at Stanford. Nobody’s grading you, nobody’s judging you, and they’re just there to help you. Most people are there just because they like reading other people’s essays, so don’t feel guilty. I think that in my freshman year I felt a bit guilty taking up resources, but by my senior year, I was just looking at the [oral communication tutoring] schedule and seeing that nobody was taking up the time, and even if I maxed out my slots that I was able to use that week, I would just call [Hume] up, and they’ll be like, “Yeah nobody’s here, you can come,” and I would just go. The resources are there. Why not use it?

The [tutors] actually enjoyed helping me rather than just sitting in the room by themselves. So I would say don’t be scared! Just do it, and you’ll realize they’re actually really helpful.

Q: What’s your favorite Hume Center memory?

A couple I remember specifically were my two mock interviews this year. One was with this law student, and we just started doing random mini ethical challenge questions. We just really got into the discussion. He was asking me these random law questions that could also be medical questions. It was awesome. 

The other [memory] was with this tutor named Terence. He also really got into [the interview]. It was just really fun to do it with grad students and they were actually really engaged in whatever my answer was and whatever I wanted. Like sometimes it was just traditional interviews and sometimes it was like multiple mini interviews and they just rolled with whatever I asked them to, which was great. I really enjoyed it. It wasn’t forced, which made me want to go back and practice more.

Q: How did your experiences at the Hume Center change your approach to writing?

In my personal statements, there was a tutor over the summer that gave me this feedback about how every statement in your personal statement needs to give an essence about who you are. So every sentence becomes more engaging if it’s not just about facts but also about some sort of emotion and some sort of piece of you and your background. I thought that was really helpful. 

For [speaking], I would say the feedback was generally consistent about being yourself because you have an interesting story, and that was just really reassuring. I wouldn’t say it necessarily changed the way I approach speaking or writing, but that’s partially because I had very limited exposure to those things back in high school, so I didn’t have a set way where I would be like, “this is how I’m going to write an essay, this is how I approach it.” I learned that in college!

Q: How has Hume changed how you think about yourself as a writer and speaker?

[My confidence] has gradually increased a lot, because the things I would have gotten feedback on freshman or sophomore year were very different things than the things I would have gotten feedback on my junior or senior year. It was more big picture junior and senior year, rather than getting caught up in sentence structure and the flow and freshman and sophomore year [the feedback] was very much on that level. So I think it was also nice to just see that development happen.

Q: Any last thoughts?

Shoutout to all the tutors! I think coming into college, I was definitely scared of writing anything. I remember freshman fall I took a psychology class and it required me to actually write a paper and immediately dropped the class. I was on that level, and now the other night I was editing someone else’s medical school application. I was just like, “Wait, how the hell did that happen? Where I feel like I’m the authority to give people feedback on their writing.” And I think Hume was a huge part of that.