PeerForward in College Welcomes New Peer Leaders
Through the journey of becoming a Peer Leader, students often find they have far more in common with their peers than they originally recognized. The same is true for the five new members of the PeerForward Movement.
This past Friday, five students from two-year campuses across the Atlanta metropolitan area gathered in an effort to encourage their peers to persist in their pursuit of a degree. Through Achieve Atlanta, these five students, called Ambassadors, work with College Advisors on their campus to highlight resources on their campus, promote social belonging, and support their peers through the college process.
In partnership with Achieve Atlanta, five Ambassadors participated in their Peer Leader training where they challenged one another, shared with one another, and gelled together as a team. These student leaders showed a great deal of enthusiasm, which resonated with their College Advisors, Achieve Atlanta Staff, and most importantly, themselves.
The cohort shared a deeper understanding of what it meant to build their capacity as scholars and leaders while strategizing how to create a culture of persistence on their campus. They are focusing on three key elements – finances, social belonging, and academics.
Peer Leader Edward Lee Jr. of Atlanta Technical College noted that a lot of retention issues lie in challenges people experience in their personal lives; a point later demonstrated in the board game Finish Line, in which Peer Leaders are assigned various identities and challenged to navigate the real-life obstacles that college students often face. Though smiles were shared by every player, both Peer Leaders and College Advisors reflected on the reality that college students often face obstacles outside of their control.
With that lesson in mind, Peer Leaders were led through a reflection process to illuminate their own leadership story and further their understanding of how vulnerability can be used as a tool for empowerment. Peer Leaders were then encouraged to add substance to every interaction with the cohort of students they will help shepherd on campus so that they are seen as a resource and support system.
Peer Leaders and College Advisors strategized for the year ahead, assessing how they could strengthen their efforts to establish buy-in for every scholar in their cohort. One of the main takeaways from that work was perfectly summarized by Peer Leader Savonne Dennis: “We need to show that we actually care for our students.” After completing training, Peer Leader Manisha Strosher from GSU-Perimeter stated that “This was the icing on the cake and exactly what I needed to fulfill my healing. PeerForward did that!”
PeerForward is ecstatic to continue this partnership with Achieve Atlanta in our new venture of leveraging the positive power of peer influence to improve college persistence. Our newest cohort of Peer Leaders will help scholars on their campus adopt a new mindset towards their education, guiding them to not only survive the college journey but thrive.