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Peer Leaders got energized at Fall 2021 Training Camps

Fall 2021 Training Camps got Peer Leaders across the country fired up and ready to spark change in their communities. From the DMV to California, our teams met with coaches both in person and online to reaffirm their goals and plan programs to support their classmates through the postsecondary application process.

Peer Leaders were hard at work at our New York training camp.

To kick off the training camps, each team outlined their unique mission for the coming year. At Lake Wales High School in Florida, Peer Leaders are on a mission “to educate, motivate, and prepare students to dominate life after high school.” Meanwhile, at Largo High School in Maryland, Peer Leaders are dedicated to promoting a culture of inclusivity: “We want to help every student discover their path regardless of who they are or where they’re from.” While each team brings its own flair, they’re all united by a shared commitment to peer-to-peer service.

The Lake Wales High School team collaborates on their mission statement.

With these goals in mind, Peer Leaders put their heads together to plan their initiatives for the second half of the semester. With college application and FAFSA info sessions already underway, Peer Leaders are taking their commitment to uplifting their classmates even further, such as by running one-on-one check-ins and raising awareness about mental health resources for students. At Performing Arts Community School in LA, Peer Leader Za’Naiya Craig Williams is hosting a podcast with her school’s psychiatrist to decrease mental health stigma and encourage students to seek support. “I want to be somebody’s safe space, and I want to open up [the conversation on mental health] more,” Za’Naiya explained.

Za’Naiya is not the only Peer Leader using her platform to serve as a mental health advocate in her school. James Epperson, a junior at Dr. Henry Wise High School, Maryland believes that checking in with peers about their mental health is an essential part of ensuring their educational success. “In our PeerForward meetings we ask how everyone is feeling,” he reflected. “I decided to join PeerForward to help me develop an understanding of different people. When I think of PeerForward I think of helping. PeerForward has helped me gain knowledge, and I can help someone else gain knowledge as well.”

Spreading knowledge is at the heart of what Peer Leaders do. Thanks to leaders like Kenya Gutierrez from the Public Service Community at Diego Rivera Learning Complex, more students are learning about opportunities such as CSU’s Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), which “provides admission, academic and financial support services to historically underserved students throughout California.” Kenya, who’s been spreading the word about EOP through her one-on-one check-ins, gets excited every time a peer decides to apply: “It makes me feel like I have a purpose in doing this,” she said.

Peer Leaders at Sebastian River High School in FL show off their gear and their school motto.

While our senior Peer Leaders found renewed determination at fall training camps, we were also excited to welcome a new cohort of juniors to take the PeerForward pledge and join these incredible teams! As we head into the final stretch of this year’s college application season, we can’t wait to see the hard work of our Peer Leaders pay off.

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