Meet Rex Okonkwo

Meet Rex Okonkwo: With PeerForward, I always feel at home and I never feel lost.

Rex Okonkwo, University of Maryland, Baltimore County ’21

What’s Your Why?
I want to give back. Growing up I really didn’t have a role model apart from my father. My older brother wasn’t someone I really wanted to be. So, now that I have a chance and an opportunity to impact others, to impact the youth in my community and various communities around me, my why is to give back because I know that my words may give hope to somebody out there who really can’t envision their future.

When did you become a part of PeerForward?
Back in August 2016, I was selected by my athletic director to go to a transformational, four-day summer workshop at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Little did I know that just that four days of being around a great college campus and great alumni would put me in a position that I’m in this current moment.

As soon as I was able, I applied to be an Alumni Support Team member. In March 2018, I received an email saying that I had been chosen to be a Peer Support Specialist for the 2018 Towson University workshop. Honestly, to me it was really a dream come true because two years ago, I always said, “I want to be a part of them; I want to be an Alumni Support Team member, I want to do this.” Now, here I was receiving an email from PeerForward! It’s like, wow, I’m actually a part of it, I get to be a part of the new PeerForward. Honestly, it was a dream come true. Now I’m able to give back and I’m able to inspire a rising senior and basically give them a better experience at their summer workshop than mine.

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

PeerForward prepared me for college, by preparing me to be a student. As a Peer Leader, I didn’t know how I felt about college life and I definitely didn’t know much about the college application process. PeerForward really prepared me for college by placing me in a room and giving me a run-down of what college life is really like. So, when I first entered college in my first semester, everything was basically like a review because I already knew what I was getting into. At this moment, I still apply the things that I learned from my summer workshop into my everyday life. Before my workshop, I really didn’t know how to pay for college. I thought it was all going to be out of pocket or through loans, but by attending the workshop, PeerForward showed me there are the different ways that you could pay for college. Now you know, every October 1st, the FAFSA, I am on it! When it comes to applying what you learned from your workshops, it really makes your whole semester easier.

What does it mean to you to have a PeerForward team behind you while you’re going through your college journey?

PeerForward created a family for me to support me throughout my educational goals and my extracurricular goals. No matter what, I know that I have a family behind me and I know that I have a family supporting me in everything that I do. It’s so comforting to know that I have support. It feels so nice to know that no matter what I do, PeerForward is always with me. I can ask for help and the first people that will contact me will be PeerForward or my PeerForward family. No matter what it is, with PeerForward, I always feel at home and I never feel lost.

Where did you go to college and why?

So initially I attended college at Howard Community College. I completed my freshman year and my sophomore year there, and currently, I am at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. In 2016, I had my summer workshop at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and the experience that PeerForward gave me at this university during this workshop, I felt right at home, so I thought, “If I really attend here, it will basically be part two of a great workshop!” After leaving the campus, I literally envisioned my future there. So my first workshop at UMBC lasted four days, but the current workshop that I’m in at UMBC is going to last me the two years it takes to get my Bachelor’s degree.

Are you ready for Home for the Holidays?

Yeah, yeah. Most definitely. So, as you know, you come to a university and you’re seeing the same people for like two, three months. During the break, everybody’s going to start to branch out and go everywhere. So the connections that you formed during the semester, during break they’re all gone because they’re going back to their family or you’re going back to your own family. At a certain point in time, you start feeling like you’re alone. But now that I’m a part of PeerForward, when everybody else is on a break, I can go on a break with my PeerForward family. Knowing that, I feel more positive about being back. Even though they may not physically be my family, the communication that we have with each other just makes me feel like I’m literally at home.

What advice would you give to the next generation of Peer Leaders?

The sky is the limit. The sky is honestly the limit. Do not place a hold on yourself. Honestly, don’t say that you want to do this, do it! Actually do more than that. Don’t go to the wall. Go through the wall.

You could go to the wall, and when you first think about your goals, that’s where you want to be. You want to go to the wall. Oh, I’m at the wall, I’ve finally accomplished what I have. Little do you know that there are things out there that are past that wall that will bring you so much satisfaction. So do not go to the wall, go through the wall.

 

Towson University Alumni Support Team: Imari Pyles, Rex Okonkwo, Dante Fiason, Muinat Lawal, Zakiyah Willies, DeHaven Johnson, Krystal Bydonne, Deja Williams, Victoria Balogun, Makayla Brown-Paul, Asia Harrison, Alivia Graham, Fatima Koroma, Phillips Percy.



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We’ve changed our name, but our mission and values are the same. After two decades of leveraging peer influence to guide more students to higher education, we’ve adopted a name that reflects the power of youth activation. Read more