Peer Leaders seeks upperclassmen studentsBy Camille Corbett | 01/23/2013 11:00pm
The Peer Leaders Program, a mentoring program for first-year students that places upperclassmen in classrooms across campus, is accepting applications for upperclassmen peer leaders until Jan. 28.
In its second year, the Peer Leaders program is intended to be an in-class tool, placing upperclassmen students in first-year classrooms to assist professors with understanding their younger peers and first-year students with adjusting to a college curricula.
“This is the second year we are recruiting for Peer Leaders,” Litsa Orban, assistant director for First Year Experience programs, said. “It evolved last year, as the First Year Experience area was developing. We find that the Peer Leader role increases student comfort in the learning environment. After this past year, we also saw great value in the partnership between the Peer Leader and instructor.”
Mary Alice Porter, coordinator of First Year Experience and parent programs, said the Peer Leaders are often looked to as role models for the younger students in the classroom.
“We look to Peer Leaders to be the role models to the students; they can help them in their transition in the university. For the peer leaders, it’s a learning experience and they get to grow by being leaders,” Porter said. “The professors benefit because it gives that peer outlook and advice from people that can relate to their students.”
For some students, this program is as a form of community service and giving back.
“Peer Leaders is a great way to build leadership skills and give back to the campus community,” said Sean Johnson-Sippial, a junior majoring in management and information sciences.
Orban said not everyone is qualified to be a Peer Leader.They must show leadership skills and academic drive in order to be considered for the position.
“Peer Leaders must demonstrate a commitment to academic and social success at the Capstone,” Orban said. “We hope they are knowledgeable about campus life and resources and truly care about first-year students.”
In addition, students have to be trained to be a Peer Leader through a variety of media.
“Training overviews first-year student transition, instructor-Peer Leader partnerships and the Peer Leader role,” Orban said.
Additionally, Orban said most of those who participated, including professors, Peer Leaders and students, had a positive experience in the program.
“Our assessment indicated benefits for all involved – the students, the instructors and the Peer Leaders,” Orban said. “Overall, the students found the course relatable and supportive, the instructor benefited from the Peer Leader’s contributions and ability to engage students in a unique way, and the Peer Leaders stated they were part of a valuable leadership and able to create meaningful relationships with UA instructors and their peers.”