Drew Robinett describes himself as a northern California kid from a northern California family, but as an academic mentor at ESM, he’s quickly proven himself to be many other things – among them, a Yale graduate and a passionate advocate for students. Born and raised in East Sacramento, Drew began tutoring students his sophomore year of high school as part of a peer mentorship program at Jesuit High School and has served as a mentor in numerous capacities, including a broad spectrum of volunteer work.
Though he tutors students across a variety of subject areas, he is most interested in science, and is currently preparing for medical school. No matter the subject, Drew enjoys the energy and humor his students bring to their work.
“I am always surprised by the many unique skills and gifts of my students. They might be impressed by how quickly I can balance a chemical equation, but I am truly amazed when they describe their various athletic, musical, and personal accomplishments. Hearing about my students aspirations to play a sport professionally or some awesome charitable club they started at school really affirms why I do this job in the first place,” Drew says.
His self-described optimistic goofiness and positive outlook have served him well in his role as a performer (he’s sung in the oldest underclassmen a cappella group in the world, the Yale Spizzwinks(?), and participated in a college dance troupe) as well as in his position with ESM, where he is motivated by the hopes and dreams of his students. Drew views their own struggles with his characteristic optimism, noting that they reflects their determination to achieve some other goal for which their difficulty is a stepping stone.
“Nothing beats watching a student learn to appreciate and even enjoy the process of learning and the lifelong skill of setting out a plan to reach a long-term goal. I want to give my students the knowledge, confidence, and academic credential to achieve their personal dreams. While most of my student’s passions are not chemistry or biology, the skills and lessons of diligence, determination, and organization that I can teach them in the study of these disciplines will prove valuable in any life path they choose,” he says.
Drew’s father instilled in him the hard work and dedication he passes along to his students, and, perhaps most importantly, Drew notes, the ability to accomplish great things if you believe in yourself. He hopes to offer his students support and confidence, and he’s excited to empower them as they seek out their own life paths. While finding common ground with students can sometimes present a challenge, Drew aims to identify a meaningful space in which he can illustrate the importance of academics to their long-term success. “I’ve yet to come up with a way that getting an A on a math test helps you get a date to prom. But making connections between a student’s real life and their life inside the classroom helps to build trust and understanding, and helps them see that their schoolwork is not some foreign enemy to be overcome but an integral part of their growth that will help them one day achieve their goals.”
But there’s more to life than a report card, and Drew makes sure his students understand that. While college applications can glorify certain achievements, a dream school should align with the things that are important to them as they move forward. He encourages a holistic look at colleges for this reason, and tries to be an unwavering advocate for the students he mentors. It is clear that Drew really believes in the populations he works with, even when they don’t believe in themselves.
“The best advice I’ve ever been given is to look at yourself in the mirror at the end of every day and—no matter how bad of a day it was—tell yourself that you did the best you could,” Drew says, “I think that sometimes people can be too hard on themselves, but really everyone out there is just trying to make the best of their life and it’s important to realize that as long as you’re trying your best, you should be proud of yourself.”