Meet Tyriq: “Becoming an educator was destined”

For our 25th anniversary, we are celebrating the alumni of our program who have continued to make meaningful and positive impacts on their communities long after workshops. Anyone familiar with PeerForward or College Summit is keenly aware of the detrimental role our alumni play in our organization. They uplift, energize, and guide Peer Leaders along their path to postsecondary success; they are the role models who prove that college is an option for everyone and there is no limit to their dreams.

PeerForward is proud to present our alumnus, Tyriq Simmons. Tyriq, a graduate of Crossland High School, served as a Peer Leader and Alumni Leader for the National Capital Region. He is a graduate of Bowie State University, University of Southern California, and is now a Doctoral candidate at Liberty University. Tyriq recently shared with us his experience with College Summit and his motivation to become an educator and role model for his community.

What inspired you to pursue your current career?

In hindsight, it seemed that becoming an educator was destined. Upon my senior year in high school, I was surrounded by phenomenal educators that taught me the value of education and even prepared me for college access. My sophomore year in college, I became involved with College Summit, now known as Peer Forward. Through them, I gained the experience of teaching and learning, and really enjoyed the impact I was making on students with backgrounds and experiences similar to my own. Then, the rest was history.

How did College Summit impact your journey?

College Summit taught me the finesse of impact. The training provided to me as a workshop participant and staff member demonstrated the practice of using authenticity, “who you are,” to inspire others. It allows you to be relatable, understanding, and non-judgmental, while still meeting expectations; all the while, you’re demonstrating to others that all things are possible. I was able to take this into my practice of teaching and learning, and now leadership. Subsequently, it has support in me being successful at what I do.

What drives you to positively impact others?

A part of my purpose in life is human service; the idea of helping others to succeed. As a person who wasn’t afforded many opportunities, I have had to work hard for my success,  which made me passionate about supporting others in reaching their success story – whatever that looks like. Their joy is the fuel that drives me.

In your opinion, why should low-income students pursue postsecondary education?

As evidenced by our national climate, our country was not built to support black and brown students – which is who we mostly find to be low-income. So, it appears that post-secondary education is what gives us a chance to have a “seat at the table”. As black people, our education can be seen as our voice before we are seen or before we even speak. It has the ability to level the playing field as we began to climb the ladder of success. Low-income students should pursue postsecondary education to further qualify their abilities to be change agents, advocates, and philanthropists for folks who are just as black and brown as they are.

What did you learn from your College Summit experience that you applied to other challenges?

Self-advocacy was the biggest core value taken from College Summit, that I applied to other challenges. It is a very important soft-skill to have as students begin to develop into competent citizens. Particularly as an educator, it is VERY important to self-advocate! 

Thank you, Tyriq for sharing your story with us. For 25 years, PeerForward has had the privilege to empower young leaders. It’s alum like Tyriq who proves that every youth has the power to ignite change.

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