York has as many as 1,500 student mentors helping peers improve their chances at academic success. Until this year, their training has been delivered by the 32 individual colleges, Faculties and units where they work.
Last week, 300 of these peer mentors gathered for the first time for a pan-university training session. Organized by the Centre for Student Community & Leadership Development (SCLD), the Peer Leadership Conference delivered workshops on using their own experience to help peers, having a helping conversation and understanding diversity. They learned what campus resources and services are available. And they practised asking questions in a speed-mentoring simulation.
Some 300 students participated in peer leadership training
“Until now, training has been done in silos,” says Leah State, coordinator, SCLD health education & promotion. “The goal of the conference was to streamline training for all peer leaders no matter what unit or faculty they worked in.”
Now trained from the same page, these students have what they need to be effective peer mentors next year. Judging by their tweets on #YUPLC, they gained a lot from the conference. At the end of the day, they told organizers they most appreciated sessions on developing meaningful relationships and being effective leaders. They also said they learned much from on treating others with respect, and effective listening and communication.
Conference organizer David Ip Yam, a student leadership coordinator in SCLD, summed up by saying leadership “involves making a habit out of elevating others to a higher state of being through meaningful interactions.”
“There was tremendous momentum around this initiative,” said State. In just two months the peer mentor subcommittee moved from planning to implementation. “Given that we have over 32 campus partners involved in this training, the speed at which this was accomplished is proof that York was ready for this to happen.”
“I think that this training is one of York’s success stories of the year,” said Catherine Salole, director of SCLD. “We do great work but often not together. As a result of this training, peer leaders and the students they serve will benefit, but ultimately so will the entire York community.”
Students who wish to get involved in co-curricular activities such as peer mentoring, should check out YU Connect.