Elena Fuertes Vegas: A unique challenge offers a unique opportunity in peer tutoring.

“The peer tutor program is about students helping other students, but both get to learn from each other,” says Elena Fuertes Vegas. “In my case, working with Wai, a Deaf student, has opened a window to communication that I had never really considered. It has made me see another type of communication, another perspective to consider and to learn from,” remarks Elena.

Elena acknowledges that the experience has opened a unique opportunity of learning. “I was helping Wai with an assignment on communication for Deaf individuals that got me thinking about the requirements and tools needed for people with disabilities to work in an office setting,” suggests Elena. Access to
communication and information through signs, loudspeakers, the Internet, telephones, and other communication tools are typically oriented towards people who can hear, see, and use their hands easily. These tools need to be accessible to people with disabilities in an office setting.

Tutee, Wai Yu, counts on Elena and likes what the peer tutor program is offering. “Elena had previously completed the course and was able to help me better understand the material. I have an interpreter who translates everything and sometimes without an interpreter, we figure out how we can communicate,” says Wai.

Elena is completing the Human Resources Certificate, andvwill be transferring into the Business Administration Diploma, Human Resources Major, this fall. Currently enrolled in a sign language course at the University of Calgary, Elena says, “I’m also committed to learning sign language because of this opportunity with Wai. The more languages you know, and the more countries you learn in, the more perspectives you have,” says Elena. “Employers want adaptable employees with a broad, global business sense including strong interpersonal and communication skills.”

Before coming to Canada, Elena had completed a Psychology Degree in Spain, her homeland. She moved to Vancouver, BC and quickly learned English and the Canadian culture while working in an elementary school. Three years later, she was volunteering in literacy classes at Bow Valley College and teaching in the LINC program. Wanting to further her education, she decided to go back to school. The decision to attend Bow Valley College was easy as she felt comfortable with its broad community culture.

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