Hi! I’m Isabelle. And this is my second year as a Peer Educator, and since I’m a Senior, it’s also my last.
I never imagined that I would be in a leadership position on campus. I always thought that leading was for other, more inspiring and confident people. But being a Peer Educator has allowed me to step into my own version of leadership and to find clarity about the things that I believe to be important.
When I first discovered that Peer Educators were hiring, I thought it would be an amazing opportunity to work in connection with the Counseling Center. This would be helpful because I would eventually like to have a career in the Mental Health field, but I didn’t necessarily know all that the Peer Educators were responsible for on campus. I remembered seeing their faces on bathroom stalls at the beginning of the year (you might know us from the “brought to you by the Peer Educators” sign at the bottom of all of the Pot Thoughts), and I was part of a Peer Body Project group with a couple of them (LIFE-CHANGING!!!). I grabbed an application from my Peer Educator friend who was tabling in Krannert and filled it out. After only a few days of waiting I received an email informing me that I got an interview. The counselors who interviewed me were welcoming, friendly, and genuinely interested in knowing about the issues that I thought were important to address on a college campus. Although I felt like I had stumbled through the interview (as we so often feel), I soon opened another email congratulating me on being hired to be a 2019-2020 Peer Educator!
When training began the next semester, I was terrified that I would not be able to contribute enough to the team. Everyone had such wonderful ideas about programming, and I was worried that my ideas wouldn’t measure up. It felt like the creative and practical sides of my brain were at war trying to think of engaging and yet feasible ways to offer resources and information to the students at Berry. Thankfully, my coworkers encouraged me to voice my thoughts and helped me to develop them into working ideas.
Most people know about the Peer Educators because of our “Pot Thoughts” which magically appear in bathroom stalls every two weeks. But did you know that we also program through a variety of other platforms? For instance, this blog which you found is where we take turns writing about whatever we are working on at the moment. Actually, you probably found the blog through our super awesome Instagram page (which we have worked incredibly hard to make aesthetically pleasing). Social media has been especially essential throughout COVID-19. We are able to make fun and informational posts (thanks Canva) and also promote upcoming events at Berry. On top of these things, we also speak at BCC 100 classes and other campus groups, create Residence Life programs, table in Krannert, host Peer Body Project groups, and come up with our own programs and events. This month, we are hosting an art showcase in celebration of Black History Month which will display various types of media honoring Berry College students’ experiences. We hope that you will come and listen along with us.
One of the things that I love most about this job is the creative freedom. Each of us gets the chance to write, design, or speak about any topic we feel is important regarding prevention. I wrote about body image, and I was able to lead discussions through the “Peer Body Project” which handled issues of appearance in young women. My friend Rachel wrote about her experiences as a person of color and how certain questions have have impacted her and how she has used those experiences to discover more about herself and her values. My friend Hope wrote a blogpost on suicide prevention, and she even created a tabling event where students were able to write down the things that made the future worth waiting for. Each of us took the things that we are passionate about and created programming that could potentially have a positive impact on someone else’s experience at Berry. This is not something that you can say about just any old campus job.
Another thing I love about the Peer Educators is how we work as a team. I’m sure there are some career paths that lead to a more “one-man (or woman)-type show,” but odds are, you’ll end up in a job where you have to cooperate with multiple people on a daily basis. Personally, I could not be more thrilled with this idea!! It’s not that its always easy to work together, but I believe that most ideas can only get better when they are bounced around among a few cool people with wildly different gifts. Some people are amazing at the creative side of things. Some shine regarding logistics and being willing to do whatever needs to be done. I like the practical side of things. I like to proofread, print, and think through the game plan, which is especially difficult during a global pandemic. We all contribute at weekly meetings, and we try to ensure that everyone’s voices are heard.
Being on the Peer Educator team has taught me a lot about myself and what I am capable of. It has taught me about responsibility, integrity, and how working hard on things that you are passionate about often doesn’t even feel like work. I’ve made connections all over campus with students and faculty alike, our supervisors are incredible, and the people I work with are people I want to know for the rest of my life. Filling out an application was one of the scariest, but most wonderful decisions I’ve made during my college career, and I hope you’ll consider doing the same.