The Mathematics Assistance Center (MAC) is the first learning center developed under the Learning Commons (LC) model. The MAC is an open access, peer-to-peer learning center located in the heart of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis’ (IUPUI) campus. One facet of the LC model that truly separates it from other tutoring center or learning center models is the hiring paradigm that provides the workforce necessary for this type of collaborative space. The LC model evolves the paradigm, not seeking out the tradition workforce of graduate students or students with solely a high aptitude in mathematics. The LC hiring paradigm seeks out students that know mathematics, but equally important those that are leaders, work well with others, and be able to empathize with their peers about the stresses of being a mathematics student. Vicky Gichina, a now retired mentor and tutor for the MAC, is a perfect example of this type of employee. Gichina, who grew up in the area and chose IUPUI because of its unique urban culture, made working at the MAC part of her college experience. She is now working in the healthcare industry helping at-risk women dealing with mental health issues.
Employees like Gichina are what make the MAC and the LC model special. When we rethink how access to high quality content can work, both students and their peer-mentors benefit while engaging and working in the collaborative spaces that are integral to the success of the model.