Role Reversal

Posted: November 16, 2012

Their majors may range from environmental analysis to psychology to media studies, but one thing Samantha Abernathy ’15, Alicen Lewis ’15, Hillary Shipps ’13, and Seana Rothman ’15 all have in common is their passion for computer science.

As the backbone of IT-FITS, a student-run Faculty Instruction Technology Support program established at Scripps College in 2006, Samantha, Alicen, Hillary, and Seana provide one-on-one software training, build websites, and work with faculty to promote themselves online or with programs like Groupwise, Sakai, and Microsoft Office. Claremont Fellow and visiting assistant professor of psychology Qutayba Abdullatif supervises the team.

“I love learning about technology,” Seana says. “And I love then being able to teach other people about the software that I am familiar with.”

The students agree working for IT-FITS is a valuable experience for many reasons. Many took the job with only a basic knowledge of computer programs and coding yet have found themselves learning alongside faculty and each other. Working as an IT assistant provides them with skills for other professions and aspects of life and gives them a rare opportunity to teach and learn at the same time.

“It enables us to have a different kind of relationship with our professors,” says Samantha. “We’re the ones teaching them for a change.” Hillary agrees: “The professors want to learn, so they accept that role reversal.”

“I’m constantly impressed with the quality of the students’ work,” adds Abdullatif. “IT-FITS creates leaders in the community and shows Scripps students have the initiative to take charge in a male-dominated field.”

“Scripps College promotes the idea of the independent student,” Samantha says. “We use those lessons to take the initiative to contact faculty, be self-motivated with our work, and to confer with each other on problems.”

“By helping professors, we’re helping them improve their class and work experience, indirectly helping the Scripps student body as a whole,” Seana says. “I feel working for IT-FITS really enables me to contribute to the Scripps community.”

With so much to offer the Scripps community, Abdullatif and the rest hope faculty will take advantage of this unique resource. “We want faculty to report all of their problems, even the small ones!” Alicen says. “Scripps has a lot of software and resources that professors don’t use, and we’d like to help them learn how.”

With each student working over ten hours each per week, it’s certain that you’ll get a fast and expert response!

— Ann Mayhew ’13

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