History Made: First Ever PeerForward in College Workshop Held at Broward College

“Love. Growth. Proud. Historic. Heart. Community. Impressed. Astonishing. Seamless. Success.” 

These were the words used to describe the first ever PeerForward in College Workshop that took place Aug 24-25, 2019 at Broward College, Fla. The workshop marks an exciting new chapter in PeerForward’s history as we pilot our program for the first time on college campuses to increase college completion rates.  

Over the course of two days, 49 Peer Leaders at the workshop learned about the challenges their peers face in completing their college degree, including high drop-out rates among first-generation students, rates of food insecurity in Broward County, and low perceived expectations around college success. Fueled by this knowledge, Peer Leaders were fired up to find solutions, resources, and words of encouragement they could use to ensure their peers make it to the graduation stage and finish their degree. 

Playing a board game called “The Finish Line” that simulates real-life obstacles students come across in their college journey, Peer Leaders discussed the ways they themselves could relate to some of the game’s challenges and how they navigated through. Then, they explored their leadership story and the power of vulnerability, sharing out with the room the challenges they’ve overcome to arrive where they are today.  

Inspired by the power of sharing their stories, Peer Leaders left wanting to let others know that they, too, could overcome their hardships. As Peer Leader Katelynn Johnston shared, “I want to be the one that shows individuals that even through hardship, you can still make it. You can still get there. I want to be the one to take that leap forward to change statistics about drop-out rates and lower the drop-out rate to get more students to graduate and get the career and degree that they want.” 

The workshop welcomed familiar faces, too, like that of college freshman Azalea Bowe. Azalea started as a high school Peer Leader in 2018 at Blanche Ely High School. Now that she’s starting her first semester at Broward College, she decided to continue her peer leadership journey by joining PeerForward in College. At the workshop, she shared that she is inspired to be “a voice for the voiceless and help those who feel helpless.” She shared, “I feel like those are the people that have the most potential, but they’re either too scared or they don’t have the right support to get what they need out. I hope to encourage them to keep going. Even if you may feel you’re not doing the best, or you may not feel as if you’re the top person in your family, you’re still going somewhere, and you’re still motivated to do something. At the end of the day, you’re still making accomplishments, big or small.” 

Now that our Broward College Peer Leaders have been officially trained at the workshop, they’ll be matched with a group of 10 peers to encourage throughout the school year and ensure they’re on the path to graduation.  

PeerForward is excited for this new venture into the field of college persistence and are confident that the power of peer influence can help inspire many more student to achieve college success! We look forward to our next PeerForward in College Workshop coming up Sept. 20 in Atlanta, Ga.

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