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Alums changing lives through tutoring business

January 5, 2017

Nia Stevens ’11 grew up a few miles away from The College of Idaho. When she was a little girl, her parents told her “That’s a great college. It’s a diamond in our backyard. People come from all around the world to go to that college.” 

And at the age of 14, Nia herself stepped foot on campus as a college freshman. After finishing high school early, she double majored in music and English. But upon graduating, like most 18-year-olds, she still didn’t know what she wanted to do in life.

She tried her hand at pursuing medical school, but health issues made Nia revaluate her career path. She had tutored since she was 11 for extra money. Knowing she could make pretty good money and offer a valuable service, Nia officially opened Prodigy Private Instruction in the summer of 2014, along with her husband and fellow alum Warren Stevens ’16.

“She’d already been tutoring so much and she clearly loved it and was good at it,” Warren said. “I thought focusing on [tutoring] sounded like a great idea.”

The business, which provides tutoring and music lessons, quickly boomed through word-of-mouth. By summer’s end, Nia had to make her first hire and has since employed several C of I alums.

For the Stevens family, there is nothing better than positively impacting their community. They may not know it, but the alums are continuing the mantra of Founding President William Judson Boone. By giving students the tools needed to succeed academically, musically and personally, they’re opening an educational door for all of their students to “see what they can do.”

“So many kids think they’re not smart or think they can’t’ do it,” she said. “It’s remarkable—for a lot of students, it just takes two or three sessions with a private tutor to turn that around.”

One of Nia’s students early on was an eighth grader who had been labeled as having special needs. After two sessions, Nia knew there wasn’t anything wrong with the boy. She found out the issue was he’d never figured out how to find the common denominator for fractions, and that was why he was failing Algebra. After tutoring the student for about a year, his grades went from Ds to As. Today, the student is a junior in high school, an honor student, and applying to Ivy League colleges.

“I love seeing the proverbial lightbulb above the head go on,” Nia said. “I love that look in anybody’s face, but particularly a child. I love that ‘aha’ moment.”

Her husband shared similar views.

“I think the most important thing for me is changing people’s lives,” Warren said. “When you’re having that impact on children and helping them attain to the highest level they can, that’s so important to me.”

And for those C of I students looking to similarly have a positive effect on a student’s life, Prodigy Private Instruction is looking for a math tutor. Check out the company by clicking here.

The College of Idaho has a 125-year-old legacy of excellence. The C of I is known for its outstanding academic programs, winning athletics tradition and history of producing successful graduates, including seven Rhodes Scholars, three governors, four NFL players and countless business leaders and innovators. Its distinctive PEAK Curriculum challenges students to attain competency in the four knowledge peaks of humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and a professional field—empowering them to earn a major and three minors in four years. The College’s close-knit, residential campus is located in Caldwell, where its proximity both to Boise and to the world-class outdoor activities of southwest Idaho’s mountains and rivers offers unique opportunities for learning beyond the classroom.  For more information, visit