Meet Carlos: PeerForward Opened My Eyes to My Own Self-Worth

Carlos Amaya Alumni Spotlight

PeerForward alumni have followed many career paths and found much success. Here, Carlos Amaya shares his journey.

When did you become a part of PeerForward? If you attended a Summer Workshop, please share your experience.

I attended my PeerForward Summer Workshop at the University of Miami in 2009. I was more than happy to go, because I didn’t even have my own plan after graduation. At the time, I didn’t believe that I could afford college or be good enough to be accepted to one. Every aspect of the Workshop helped me immensely and was worth more than I can ever repay. The warm welcome and energy of the Alumni Leaders allowed me to be comfortable and open to the experience; the constant reassurance from my College Coach that I would be a great asset to any college campus motivated me. PeerForward’s faith in me opened my eyes to my own self-worth. I went in expecting nothing and came out with lessons that paved the road to my college graduation.

How did PeerForward help you prepare for college? How has being a Peer Leader influenced your college experience?

With guidance from PeerForward I was prepared to handle my college application process from beginning to end. I had the know-how to navigate financial aid forms and felt more confident in sessions with my school’s college advisor. I started Florida International University (FIU) just two weeks after graduating, and managed to sort out my financial aid and select my classes with ease. With the leadership skills I acquired, I was able to fulfill my role as Peer Leader, assisting my friends as they applied to and transitioned to college, whether that be financial aid applications, credit requirements or schedule selections.

Do you have a specific example of how you were able to help a student or peer get to college?

I had a friend who was unfortunately going through a rough time. She decided that her life was complete after high school and that college was not for her. I motivated her to apply because I could see that her fear of failing was preventing her from succeeding. PeerForward helped me see my inner worth and I wanted to return the favor to another. I got her thinking about what she wanted to do, constantly reminding her that she was college material. I helped her with her application, personal statement and FASFA – just like my PeerForward Writing and College Coaches did for me. She was quickly admitted to college and even received enough financial aid to pay off her tuition!! That was a particularly proud moment for me, and proof in the power of Peer Leadership.

How did you and your fellow Peer Leaders create a college-going culture?  Please share any events, campaigns or programs that you planned for your high school.  

The Peer Leaders in my high school were active and motivated to spread the knowledge they had received during their Summer Workshops. We had weekly meetings to ensure we effectively executed our campaigns and made our names known amongst the senior class. We hosted a college fair in our library that brought some local college and universities. We hung posters in the hallways with our dream school or the school that we would be attending, which informed them of cost, admission rate, graduation rate, etc. I think just being there provided our friends and classmates with reassurance – like an “if they can do it, so can we” mentality.

If you’re in college, where did you attend and why? If you have graduated, please share what you are doing now?  

I graduated from Florida International University (FIU) in 2015 with dual degrees in Political Science and Criminal Justice, a Certificate in National Security and a minor in Psychology. I have now re-enrolled at FIU for my Master of Arts in Global Affairs. I am still involved with PeerForward, serving on the National Alumni Council.



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