Dr. Bray represents the epitome of the “skilled volunteer” who generously shares his passion for teaching with the young people in his community. He began volunteering as a one-on-one mathematics tutor for our Scholars to College students in October of 2011, and from the outset we knew that having a Duke professor as a volunteer tutor was something special.
Our students quickly realized this as well, with “Mr. Hugh” soon becoming our most requested tutor. He volunteered once or twice per week in this capacity for two years, always making time to work with our students while juggling the busy life of an esteemed professor and raising a family of five kids of his own.
Hugh, however, felt he could do more. This fall he came to us with an idea for a new initiative that would allow him to better utilize his skills and reach more students. The result was a new math course, dubbed “S2C Mathletes”, in which Dr. Bray teaches advanced math topics to a small group of our most talented math students. His goal is to spark their interest in STEM fields by showing them the exciting applications that lie beyond Algebra II or Pre-Calculus, while at the same time honing core math skills to ensure high performance in their courses.
It was apparent from their first session in January that this course was something the six students not only enjoyed and learned from, but were extremely proud to be a part of. As they filed back into the lobby after the first session, we saw grins, laughter, and excitement – after nearly two hours of math! “What did you learn today?” we asked Nikki, a freshman. “The theory of relativity and magic squares. It was pretty cool!” Since January, the Mathletes meet each Thursday afternoon from 4:00 to 5:45, and for these curious young minds, it does not seem like enough.
While it was clear to us early on that Hugh was a first-class volunteer, we think the students’ words provide the best endorsement. Taquoia, a sophomore Mathlete, says, “It doesn’t feel like math class at school, it’s much more fun. It’s important to have math professors like him to help us see that math isn’t boring and it’s needed in all our lives. I am glad I’m in the club.” Nikki, a 9th grader, says, “Mr. Hugh provides a great learning environment for students with his vibrant, intelligent personality. He creates a unique learning experience that students cannot get in an ordinary classroom.”
All successful people can look back at their many years of schooling and point to one teacher who showed them new possibilities for their future and inspired them to strive for excellence. We strongly believe that Dr. Hubert Bray can and will be that teacher for many of our Scholars to College students.
Our students are intelligent, inquisitive, and driven. With the comprehensive college preparatory framework of the Scholars to College program, coupled with extra opportunities provided by mentors like “Mr. Hugh”, our students can unlock their potential and discover the vast opportunities that await them in college and beyond.
It’s important to note that Dr. Hubert Bray was recently recognized by Duke University with an Employee Service Award. Nominated by Center staff, Dr. Bray was commended for his voluntary efforts as a dedicated math tutor for Scholars to College students. As part of the employee award, the Office of Durham and Regional Affairs contributed $200 to the Emily K Center.