Martin Ruiz

Major: Mechanical Engineering and International Relations
Hometown: Santa Paula, CA
Class: Junior
Program Position: Tutorial Coordinator | CAVE

How did you first get connected with Community Action Volunteers in Education (CAVE)?
As a freshman I wanted to find a volunteer program working with kids, and I saw CAVE tabling the second week of school. I had experience tutoring kids, so I applied to CAVE’s tutorial program. I volunteered at a local elementary school working with small groups of 1st through 3rd graders. I did that for a year and then became a CAVE group leader in the Tutorial Program my sophomore year.

How would you describe your current position as Tutorial Coordinator?
As a coordinator I connect with parents to provide information about our program. I reach out to schools to see if they have students who need tutoring. I hope to attend some PTA meetings to get the word out about our services. We tutor one-on-one with kids in 1st through 12th grades in all subjects. We meet twice a week for 1-1/2 hour sessions in the BMU. My goal is to increase the number of volunteers and kids being tutored. I supervise three group leaders who were all volunteers in the program last year. I prepare them for what to expect in their roles. I’m responsible for ensuring that volunteers have complete applications for the clearance process, and I also conduct group orientations with them.

What does working at CAVE do for you personally, professionally, or academically?
I’ve learned good time management, how to review files with attention to detail for accuracy, and how to both lead and follow. All these skills are related to my career in engineering. I like to figure out a problem – how to solve it, and I’m always looking forward.

Personally, I want to volunteer because I’m in a new community and I want to give back to the kids who live here. A grandparent asked me to tutor his grandson who needed help in math. He shook my hand and thanked me because he wants to see his grandson go to college.

What do YOU bring to the table in your position at CAVE?
I’ve been through all three levels of the program so I’ve seen it from all perspectives.  I know what works and doesn’t work. I also bring humor to the job. I’m comical. I like to make my group leaders feel more at ease. I can be a boss if I need to lay down the law, but I don’t like to be bossy.

What are your career plans and how does your job with CAVE better prepare you for that path?
I want to be a macro-engineer in a firm. I’m most effective working with a group in a team setting. I would like to work abroad to identify needs and find solutions to problems – perhaps something related to water projects.