Missouri City resident Shahin Nanji first started her tutoring business in 2012, teaching her students in a 70-square-foot office space on Sugar Creek Boulevard. It was capable of fitting two students at maximum.

A trained electrical engineer, Nanji had no previous experience running a business but wanted to pursue her passion for teaching—starting at the Lenotre Culinary Institute in Houston as an adjunct faculty member, instructing math and computer science skills related to cooking and business management.

“When I started teaching, all the students loved it,” she said. “I got excellent feedback every year. I taught there for three years.”

Nanji and her husband, Asif, opened Study Dorm on Dulles Avenue in Stafford in November 2014, employing two other tutors and enrolling approximately 115-120 students in the program per month. Study Dorm specializes in math, but students can also get help in science, writing and test preparation, coming in as many or as few times as they want.

“We introduced the concept of group tutoring where each classroom, there are 5-6 kids,” Nanji said.

Aside from Nanji, Study Dorm employs two other instructors who help students at various grade levels from the Greater Houston area. Nanji said she is contemplating opening a second location in Cypress in the future because she believes it is an underserved community with a need.

“I realized I’m very good at talking with the parents [and] talking with the students,” she said. “That’s what I think is a very big factor in running the business because parents trust me, and they refer me.”

Students often call or text Nanji to reserve space as needed—sometimes hours beforehand.

Nanji develops her instructional materials by going over coursework with students, many of whom attend Fort Bend ISD schools.

“I have my own curriculum where I know [which] month what topics are covered in FBISD,” she said. “When kids come, I already know what they’re doing in school because from every school, I have one or two kids.”

In addition to assisting elementary, middle and high school students, Study Dorm also provides tutoring services to clients in postsecondary education programs, helping them prepare for exams, such as the Graduate Management Admission Test and the Test of Essential Academic Skills.

“I have a very special relationship with the students,” she said. “I make them understand that if you’re not going to study, it’s not going to end here. There is no shortcut.”