“The First-Year Experience Conference: Peer Mentors Matter” by Monique Corral
April 20, 2012
The value of students helping students was a common theme for me at the 31st Annual Conference on The First-Year Experience. One of the sessions that I found most helpful was a preconference session called Strategies for Training, Motivating, and Supporting Peer Educators, which was facilitated by the University of South Carolina. Prior to the conference, I was really looking forward to it. At first glance, the title caught my eye, seeming directly relevant to my work with the Building Connections for Success program and Career Center, particularly with a new peer mentor program being implemented this semester where students serving as peer mentors facilitate a weekly Popcorn Hour for freshmen and sophomores to connect with the Career Center, meet new people, and learn about resources.
I wasn’t disappointed. The session provided a wonderful overview of the value of peer mentors, designing and facilitating peer mentor training, motivating and sustaining peer mentors, and much more! The session’s facilitators were truly engaging and the session was interactive and fun!
The session gave me some new ideas and reaffirmed some activities. For example, I gained wonderful ideas for interactive activities to build community within our program’s peer mentors and promote participation, teamwork, trust, and enhance the learning process (e.g., get to know you activities, team builders, group check-in activities, etc.). Also, throughout the session, participants were asked to make a note of things to share or learn from the session, write them down on cut-out leaves, and post them on a “tree of affirmation” for all to see. The facilitators referred to these comments during the session and used them as an opportunity to check-in with the group. This gave me a great idea for incorporating something like this in our peer mentor training to promote further reflection.
Overall, it was a great session!
Monique Corral is a Career Advisor in the Career Center at California State University, Northridge and joined Building Connections for Success in Spring 2011.