Tutor Spotlight: Ivy Summit Series Edition


This November, Harvard Student Agencies (HSA) Tutoring is partnering again with The Learning Lab (TLL), a leading enrichment center based in Singapore, to run the Ivy Summit Series. We’re excited to be partnering with such a well-established learning center that has the same mission as us – empowering students with the skills and knowledge to succeed in their futures.

Taught entirely by Harvard undergraduate students, the Ivy Summit Series is a two-part workshop series for high school students that centers around college applications and personal enrichment skills. Our two instructors are Benjamin Barnett ‘17 and Chris Zhang ‘18 – learn more about them below in our Tutor Spotlight!


Benjamin Barnett

Hello! My name is Ben Barnett, and I am a senior at Harvard University. I am concentrating in Chemistry, with a secondary field in Spanish. I really love chemistry and doing research is one of my favorite parts of college. Outside of class, I enjoy singing with the Harvard Glee Club and playing intramural tennis. I’m also a Fellow for the Food Literacy Project. Originally, I’m from a small farming town in Kentucky. I graduated as Valedictorian of my high school, where I served as the Student Council President and the captain of the tennis team. I was awarded the AP Scholar with Distinction title for receiving near-perfect scores on 12 AP exams, and I received perfect marks on the ACT. I also competed internationally in Future Problem Solving Competitions.

Chris Zhang

My name is Chris and I am currently a junior at Harvard concentrating in Chemistry with a possible secondary in Statistics. During high school, I graduated valedictorian of my class with a 4.0 GPA and was the president of our local UNICEF club, vice president of National Honors Society and a member of the student government council. The summer after my junior year, I had the privilege of participating in student government program called Boys’ Nation, where I had the chance to meet President Obama in the White House with my fellow delegates!   At Harvard, I am the Director of the Chinatown Afterschool program, a dancer in the Asian American Dance Troupe, a member of the club tennis team and a student researcher in the department for Biological Medicine and Molecular Pharmacology at the Harvard Medical School. In my spare time, I enjoy watching movies, listening to the music of up-and-coming artists, running and eating copious amounts of delicious food.


Our tutors took the time to tell us a little more about why they enjoy teaching and their thoughts on the Ivy Summit Series. Read on to find out more about the program and their involvement!

Why did you join Harvard Student Agencies?

Benjamin: I joined HSA because I thought that I wanted to go into education. Even though that’s no longer true, I love teaching students and helping them succeed, whether that be in college applications or standardized testing.

Chris: I joined HSA as a chance to broaden the scope of my tutoring abilities. Before this year, I primarily tutored elementary-age students so I never had a chance to venture into subjects that were particularly challenging for me. Having the opportunity to help in subjects like AP Calculus or Chemistry also gives me a chance to brush up on those skills as well.

Why did you decide to be part of the Ivy Summit Series? Is there something you wish to share with the high school students?

Benjamin: I chose to be a part of the Ivy Summit Series because I get to help students work towards their dreams. I’m really grateful for all of the wonderful opportunities I have been afforded, and I want to help others strive for the best they can be. The Ivy Summit Series is a place where students are dedicated to their studies and reaching for success, and I can’t imagine a better group of students to work with.

Chris: I decided to be a part of the Ivy Summit Series as a way to share my stories and struggles with high school students. Reflecting on my high school years, there were some things I worried about way too much – and some things I did not worry about enough. I hope to share some of the most important lessons I’ve learned in hindsight and teach students that dealing with successes and failures can sometimes teach more important lessons than the events themselves.

What does the Ivy Summit Series offer to students?

Benjamin: Students should enroll in the Ivy Summit if they are passionate about going to college and they want to learn everything they can about the skills they need to succeed in college and in their future. It’s a great way to learn about how the process works, to also get a glimpse into the life of current college students, and to hone the skills needed for post-secondary school life.

Chris: The Ivy Summit Series provides so much more than a series of generic suggestions on how to succeed in the application process. During my time writing college applications, one of the things I missed out on was having the opportunity to engage in dialogues with students who had already been through the college application process. I strongly believe that every individual has their own unique story to share, but sometimes those stories need to be discovered through periods of thought and reflection. I would strongly recommend the Ivy Summit Series to all students who are still seeking that dash of inspiration or looking to find a voice in their applications.

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