Meet this week’s Forward Thinker Spotlight: The Dr. Henry A. Wise Jr. High School PeerForward Team!
The Puma Peer Leaders have led big events this school year. In addition to the two college fairs they’ve hosted, the grand opening of their crowdfunded College and Career Center was featured on NBC4 Washington! We caught up with some of the seniors and juniors on the team to talk about their experiences being Peer Leaders and what they’ve learned from each other.
Seniors, what has been your proudest moment as a Peer Leader this year?
Harlie Holmes: I’m proudest of the one-on-one interactions I’ve had with the college Summit classes, getting them to file for FAFSA. It was my proudest moment because we were able to give people who didn’t want to be in the big groups an intimate, one-on-one experience that was more comfortable for them.
Dayanara Contreras: I’m proudest of our first college fair because it had such a big turnout. I think it was my proudest moment because that was our first event with PeerForward as seniors and it had such a great outcome that it really pushed us to keep doing what we are doing.
Ardany Lima: I’m proudest of my one-on-one interactions with the ESL students. I enjoyed getting them engaged and thinking about post-secondary options. It makes me proud because it allows me to use the resources I have gotten from PeerForward and give back to my community. Being able to give back to the Latino community makes me feel really proud.
Juniors, what is one thing that you’ve learned from your senior Peer Leaders?
Brian Miller: I learned humility. I learned how to carry myself better by watching them. They’re great role models and I learned a lot from them this past year.
Juniors, the seniors have had a lot of great events. What is one thing you want to accomplish once you become a senior Peer Leader next year?
Tejuan McDaniel: I want to help my friends get into college and trade schools. I feel like they think the process is intimidating, scary, and too high effort to do, but I feel like I can change their minds. I want to show them things they can do to make it easier and to make their college life more fun.
What are some characteristics you think you bring to the table as a Peer Leader?
Brian Miller: I bring a lot of energy. I’m very energetic and charismatic. I’m very funny too, so I like to think I bring a lot of fun energy to the program. I’m in the JROTC program too, so I bring some of that knowledge and discipline to the program too. It allows me to provide a different perspective which is also good.
Tejuan McDaniel: For me, I feel like I bring a lot of open-mindedness, enthusiasm, and charisma to the team. I’m very creative since I’m an artist. Because of that, I feel like I have a unique perspective and there are a lot of things that I can share with others.
What is one thing that you would like everyone to know about PeerForward?
Dayanara Contreras: I want everybody to know it’s a great environment to be in. It is just great to be a part of a team and to have the opportunity to help other people. I’m proud to be a Peer Leader.
Ardany Lima: One thing I would say is just to reach out, reach out, reach out. If you see anyone with the orange flame, the black shirt, or the white letters, it’s because they’re there to give you advice and help you navigate any questions that you might have. So, if you were to see a Peer Leader at your school, reach out!
Some responses have been edited for length and clarity.