Group of students sitting at a round table talking

Helping first-year students

Heavener’s Peer Leader program allows students to co-teach a Warrington Welcome class and play an important role in familiarizing first-year students to business school.

But the first-year students aren’t the only ones experiencing the benefits of the program.

Peer Leaders use Warrington Welcome classes to build connections with each other and lean on the experiences of previous Peer Leaders. This provides networking opportunities, but it also creates mentorship between students with different levels of experience in the Peer Leaders program.

Peer Leaders teach one semester per year and stay in the program through graduation. They also meet together once a month for a forum that strengthens bonds and builds camaraderie within the program, and they can also attend monthly professional development workshops.

The program also helps the leaders gain skills that are directly transferrable to their future careers. While co-teaching, they improve their public speaking and facilitation skills and become important advisors and mentors for younger students. They learn about themselves and the importance of creating an inclusive community.

Peer Leader Program Director Erin Bowler leans on her teaching background to help students prepare for teaching the class. Students take Bowler’s class in the spring, where they learn how to build a welcoming community and facilitate engaging presentations and classroom experiences.

The Peer Leaders see direct benefits from the program.

“In this mentoring capacity, I enjoy getting to know students personally and helping them explore both UF’s resources and the deeper questions of life,” said A. Lukas High, who currently serves as a Peer Leader. “I view my role as a Peer Leader as being much more than an academic mentor; I view my role as being a genuine friend to students who challenges them and encourages them to discover what motivates them, their purpose in life and their desired legacy.”

In 2018, Peer Leaders developed “Make an impact. Create a home.” as the program’s mission, as they aim to give first-year students a sense of belonging on the Warrington campus.