PeerForward’s first workshop at Nazareth College this July saw almost 80 students from Texas, California, Maryland, D.C., and Florida craft their college lists, draft personal statements, and take the pledge to be Peer Leaders.
In addition to preparing for the college application process, over the course of four days Peer Leaders learned how to be champions for themselves and their communities. Danyela Mendoza of Rembrandt Secondary School, TX shared, “[At workshop] I’ve learned to self-advocate, that nobody else is going to do something for you unless you speak out about it, and to be the change that you want to see in yourself and for others.”
Learning about self-advocacy takes a variety of different forms at workshop: from their lead Coaches, students learn how to advocate for scholarships, work-study, and other forms of financial aid. From their Writing Coaches, they discover the power of sharing their stories. And with their College Coaches, they formulate their postsecondary goals and make an action plan for their applications. Then they take their newfound knowledge and motivation and bring it back to their high schools to share with their peers.
“I want to see more people being more serious about their education, because I feel like education is the key to success.” – Braylon Wims, Friendship Collegiate Academy Public Charter School, D.C.
This summer we are thrilled to see our staff and volunteers returning to workshops to make this experience possible for Peer Leaders. Many of our workshop staff members are alumni of the program, such as Tamika Gordon, one of PeerForward’s newly certified Coach Trainers.
“I come back to PeerForward because someone believed enough in me to instill the values that we now instill in all our students across the country. PeerForward [taught me] that I was bigger than my circumstances, I was bigger than my numbers, I was bigger than what everyone else thought of me; it was always about what I thought of myself.” – Tamika Gordon
For the staff and volunteers who make their way back to workshops each year, the journey of growth and learning continues:
“PeerForward does a great job of exposing everyone – not just the students, but anyone who comes to volunteer – to the opportunity to explore different possibilities and perspectives. Hearing other people’s stories makes you think about your own journey and know that you can rise above whatever has happened in your past. The future still awaits you.” – Omezie Omeokwe, Certified Coach Trainer
As they expand their perspectives on all the postsecondary options available to them, Peer Leaders benefit from an immersive campus experience. For many students, a PeerForward workshop marks their first time setting foot on a college campus or going far from home. During their stay at Nazareth College, Peer Leaders have found themselves considering new possibilities for the future:
“This experience has greatly changed me. Coming from south Texas, the weather is completely different – just the environment here, how calm it is, how different it is to the environment that I’m used to has shocked me in a very positive way. I’m hoping that this experience will allow me to get comfortable when I start applying to out-of-state schools, knowing that anywhere I go, I’ll be okay.” – Danyela Mendoza
Our second workshop at Nazareth College kicks off on Wednesday, July 20th.