Updated: Jan 10, 2022
In this first installment of our "Getting to Know Us" series, I interviewed Amanda Merrifield, one of our college counselors and tutors, who currently lives in the UK. Those who know Amanda know her infectious smile and perpetual good spirits, so interviewing her (even at 10 pm her time) was a treat.
Want to hear more from our whole college counseling team? Check out "Peas in a Pod: Meet our Counseling Team", episode #03 of Mindful Admissions, the Strive to Learn podcast, below!
L: Let's get started! So, what do you tutor?
A: A lot of different things, my favorite is college counseling! But I also teach spanish, essay writing, literature, and more. I’m also a coder!
L: How did you get started?
A: In 2014, I was living in Brentwood near UCLA, and I volunteered as a bedside tutor with LAUSD for kids at the UCLA Medical Center. It was a super cool experience! Other tutors were mostly med school students, so they had medical motivation for being there, but I was just there for the kids. It was challenging sometimes, since they were ill, but a very unique experience. I thought, “I like that, so why not keep doing it?” I kept tutoring until I started at Strive.
L: Coding, that’s awesome! What do you love about coding?
A: A lot of people say that coding is common with writing poetry, and I love poetry! It truly is like learning another language with its own grammar rules and dialects. When you’re done writing, which is beautiful on its own, there is a function at the end and it actually DOES something and helps people. Also, I love coders - everyone’s very enthusiastic and full of helpful, and there’s so much readily-available information.
L: What are your favorite things to do outside of work?
A: Well, I live in London, so things are a bit different from Cali. When I’m at home, wake up at 5 am and watch the sunrise, go for a walk, get coffee, or walk at the Wedge… In London, it’s colder! I also work weird hours, so I find things to keep me busy. I rock climb, cook, play ukulele, stand-up paddleboard, and walk Skippy. I also love designing websites, and learning to code. Ooh, and mystery novels!
A: Yep! Skippy is our greyhound - he’s actually a retired racing dog. His racing name was Dudley’s Skippy. Because of the tattoos on his ears, we know he was born in Ireland, but he was raised in the UK. The funny thing is, “Dudley” is actually a family name, and now we have another one! He’s very quick, when he was racing, he won twenty-two out of ninety-two races, which is very good - but we don’t condone that.
L: What have you been doing in quarantine?
A: Well, I got into the sourdough bread game, and refurbishing second hand furniture… I love finding remote places in the UK to go for walks: 14th century abbeys, little villages, empty arboretums… One time, we drove to get a piece of furniture, and King’s Cross was completely empty, so we walked through an empty Platform 9 ¾! Experiencing the city when it’s empty is so great, but it’s still strange to see a ghost town in quarantine.
L: What have you been listening to lately?
A: I’ve been weirdly into 90s hip hop? Haha!
L: Any podcasts or audiobooks to recommend?
A: I love anything NPR, like Planet Money… I’ve been listening to Michelle Obama’s biography, The Guest List, Beginner’s Guide to Learning French, Queenie by Candace Carty-Williams… I want to listen to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
L: What about TV and movies?
A: I binged The Haunting of Bly Manor, since it’s based on a book I want to read! I’m trying to finish the Office (committed to that in lockdown)... Oh, and this 90s mystery show called Jonathan Creek.
L: Bly Manor, oof! Do you have any favorite horror movies?
A: The Shining! 1942, Cat People… With older horror movies, like the ones we watched in my college film class, it was fun to rip them apart because they played into all of these old tropes about women and immigrants.
L: Awesome. I'll definitely look into those! Thanks for your time, Amanda.
A: No problem! My pleasure.