Teacher’s assistant works to find a balance


Tatiana PolancoContributor

Meeting with students, creating study materials, proctoring exams — these are just a few responsibilities of graduate student Rachael Quicquaro who has been a teacher’s assistant since fall 2019.

The 22-year-old is a familiar face for many in the Communication Disorders department. Students reach out before an exam to review information during one of her study sessions or simply to calm their nerves. And professors recognize her as another resource for students in their classes who might need help.

Quicquaro’s desire to help began from a young age after seeing the impact an in-home advocate had on her brothers. In her career, she hopes to work with children, but said she also “feels good” in her role as a TA.

While she said the opportunity has been a “blessing,” it also is “a lot of work.”

Since she is also a student, the Watertown native said it can be tricky now and then to find a balance. As a teacher’s assistant for four classes this semester, her TA time can bleed into class time and class time into other responsibilities.

The key, as Quicquaro said, is to “set limits for yourself.” It is important to make time for work and time for oneself as well, she said. “Time management is a big thing,” she said, and finds it an applicable lesson for her future work as a speech and language pathologist.

Still, despite that balancing act, she said she feels “lucky” to meet and talk to the students. It has been a good experience and perfect for anyone who might be pursuing a research or educator career path.

Her appreciation for what she does, though, has not gone unnoticed by others.

“Rachael is a very dedicated, hardworking, and passionate CMD student. She’s very thoughtful with the work she does and the people she interacts with,” said fellow communication disorders graduate student Michelle Defelice.

Another outcome of being a teacher’s assistant is getting to know the professors. It can be “hard to know the teachers as an undergrad” but working alongside them helps one gain “another perspective.”

As a graduate student, Quicquaro also has pointers for others looking into graduate school themselves. When asked about the transition from the undergrad program, she said. “What you’re learning [now] is not just academic, [but you’re] trying to grasp it to apply it.”

Not only that, but the balance between class, personal life, and clients, if the major requires, is also different. The classes, too, change in style; there is “less formative testing, and it’s more about application.”

Like many Southern students, when the chance to relax comes, she takes it. So, in her free time, Quicquaro likes to zone out by watching movies and catching up on sleep.

“The less you’re [at] home,” she said, “the more you want to be home.”

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