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Temisan Shebi isn’t new to PeerForward, she’s true to PeerForward and our mission. In celebration of Women’s History Month, we caught up with Temisan and asked about her experience as a woman in a leadership position, her time with PeerForward, and the advice she has for students, specifically young women, who want to attend college.
As a woman and as a leader, why do you think it’s important to be a positive influence on your peers in the workplace?
I think being a positive influence in the workplace is important and valuable because of the energy that comes with being a positive influence and how that can translate into all aspects of work. Whether it’s how people follow you, how people see you, how people listen to you, or how people listen to your feedback; if all of that is positive energy, then the way that can flow through individuals and just continue throughout the world can be pretty magical. I love the idea of just being positive and putting good into the world because that flows endlessly.
Being a leader in your own workspace, have there been any times when you have uplifted your peers who are women?
Oh, absolutely. I am team, “Yes, hair! Yes, shoes! Yes, PowerPoints! I see you with that data analysis! Okay?” <laugh> I’m going to encourage and I’m going uplift every single time. You know why? We need to hear it. I don’t feel like women are celebrated enough. Whether you’re celebrating yourself or you’re celebrating somebody else, turn up and enjoy it. You know what I mean? So that’s gonna be me and that’s a big deal.
What would you say to young women who are hoping to graduate college and hold leadership positions to help inspire them to pursue that path?
What I would say is, believe it or not, whether you do good, whether you do bad, whether you’re high, whether you’re low – anything – someone’s always going to have a positive opinion and someone’s always going to have a negative opinion. Because of that, you should do whatever you want to do and whatever makes you feel good. I feel like trying all those new cool things is going to allow you to find the freedoms that make you feel the best. I will tell you to try everything because everyone’s going to have an opinion regardless, so forget them.
Can you describe your PeerForward volunteer experience?
My PeerForward volunteer experience has been amazing. I’ve been a Writing Coach. In those opportunities, I’ve had a chance to connect individually with students. I’ve had a chance to hear their stories, help them formulate their stories, and watch those stories then turn into opportunities for them. To be able to help be just a part of a catalyst of someone’s future is incredible. And I love college. I love Peer Forward for creating this opportunity and creating this platform that allows us to come out here and just really feed into these students and their futures.
Why is it important for first-generation low-income students of color to still pursue a college degree?
I think that they should still pursue a college degree because it’s not just a college degree, it is so much more than that. I think the college experience is one that builds an individual. When you go to college, you learn about yourself. You learn how to engage with others. You learn things that you may or may not like. You find yourselves in situations where you don’t always have your parents. It’s just this really cool time that allows you to grow into a certain individual if you allow it. So, I think it’s not just a degree, but the actual experience that we should all go for.
Some responses have been edited for length and clarity.