Iulia Boboc is an Exam Prep English teacher at MEK Review who is currently teaching Exam Prep 8, SAT Foundation, SAT 1400, and SAT 1500. She also conducts weekly virtual office hours, where she helps students one-on-one.
The following is an interview between her and our marketing coordinator:
Teaching at MEK
Interviewer: What’s your favorite part of teaching at MEK?
Boboc: What I like the most about teaching in general is seeing students realize that their true potential is much higher than they think. And MEK, in particular, is filled with teachers who are passionate about bringing out the best in students and guiding them to realize that full potential. Many students start off thinking that a subject or an assignment is a chore and end up loving it because of the influence of their teacher. And that is very rewarding to witness.
Interviewer: You were a double major in college for English and education. What draws you to those fields?
Boboc: My real passion is literature. I love literature. I love reading. I love stories.
And I love the moments in stories when you realize you’re not alone in the way you think or feel about something. There’s a connection between you and the book that you didn’t think was possible. Most students don’t understand this at first – that a book is not just about answering reading comprehension questions. It’s so much bigger than that. It’s so much bigger to humanity.
I love sharing that knowledge. I love that I can change a student’s life by sharing that passion. I find it incredibly fulfilling.
Interviewer: What are you reading right now?
Boboc: Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence. It’s this incredible depiction of relationships – the psychology of those relationships. Lawrence depicts character development in such an amazing way; it’s unlike anything else.
Interviewer: Do you have any suggestions for your students for a good “quarantine” read?
Boboc: For middle school students, I would suggest The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. It’s a good book to read right now, because it really makes you think about your purpose in life – beyond just the moment. The story is also a journey that involves a lot of traveling, so it’s a great form of escape!
For high school I would recommend The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro. Again, it’s about a journey, a quest, but it’s very complex and mysterious. The characters don’t remember who they were. A the story progresses, the characters start to remember that they were on the wrong side of a moral war. A they travel around, the main characters see ogres and giants, but you’re never sure if they are real or a manifestation of their guilt. The story is really about the trauma and memory loss of a collected society, and it covers many themes that are extremely relevant today.
Interviewer: And what would be your advice to students who are learning in a virtual setting this fall?
Boboc: You have to be self-aware. You have to take time to reflect and figure out what works for you. If you have weaknesses, you have to think about what they are – lack of motivation, setting. And then think about what you can do to overcome whatever is inhibiting you. Most importantly, you have to ask yourself: What do you want? What skills do you want to become better at. Then, proactively formulate study habits to help you reach your goals. Keep in mind, the world could be like this for some time.
Interviewer: Outside of teaching, what are your interests?
Boboc: I love exploring other cultures. I don’t just read English literature. I read Middle Eastern, Latin American, and Indian literature, as well as Chinese philosophy. And before COVID, I loved traveling. I was born in Romania, but I’ve also traveled to Spain, Morocco, Nicaragua, Austria, Portugal, Italy, and Hungary.
Interviewer: Do you speak any other languages?
Buboc: Yes, in addition to English, I speak Romanian and Spanish. I’ve also gotten conversational in French, but I wouldn’t say I’m fluent yet. I can also understand Italian and Portuguese, but not speak it very well.
Interviewer: Wow, that’s impressive. You’ve also done some traveling in the U.S. For instance, you went to Boston College. Many MEK students apply there. Any advice or insider info for them?
Buboc: Boston College is a great college that has tons of service opportunities, a unique culture, and a beautiful campus. But the best part by far are the professors. They are incredibly knowledgeable but so humble and helpful. They are very open to having long discussions with their students, and I got so much from them.
Boston College tends to be super competitive, but with many Jesuit ideals, so it’s in a good-natured way. However, one piece of advice I would give to any freshmen who were attending is to be careful to not lose your identity. It can be an intense culture, and it’s a time where you may be trying to form a new identity after high school But don’t lose sight of what you care about and what you want. Take time for yourself and take time to connect with the people in your life who really know you.
Interviewer: Any final words for your SAT prep students?
Buboc: I would tell them that the skills that they learn in SAT preparation go way beyond just the SAT, way beyond college even. Critical reading and writing skills are going to be essential in your job and your life no matter what you do. Everything is influenced by your ability to understand what others are trying to communicate, even if it’s just a text message! Those skills matter.