- Elementary Education
- Graduation year:
- Naperville, IL
Q&A with Brianna
How is your experience as a peer leader different from your experience as a first year?
As a first-year, I came in knowing it would be an adjustment in itself so I was more focused on myself and adjusting to all the changes. As a peer leader, I have got my life in order now. I know what to expect in college so I know how to navigate it a little more. Now I am looking at all these freshmen coming in, all of them have different personalities and they are so wonderful to be around and I am thinking of all the things I can do to help them and be their mentor. You now know how they feel so you want to contribute more to the community and be responsible for pushing the community forward instead of figuring out your own way.
Did living here in your first year help with your transition?
Oh yeah, It’s like a family on the floor. If I ever had a problem or a question about a class or if I needed help on homework or just needed someone to talk to, I had a whole floor of people who were willing to do it with me. We even had study sessions on the floor. I had a class that I was struggling with in the first year but whenever I needed help, anyone on the floor who even knew anything about that class would come out regardless of the time and we would work on things together. It was nice to have that community and knowing that if you needed help with something, there were at least two or three people who were willing to help.
What has been your favorite experience living on the floor?
Our trip to Nashville last year was amazing. We got to see all the animals at the zoo and visit the museum. I got to pet a kangaroo, that was really cool. I also like the weekly seminars and some of the great speakers we have had.
Have there been any specific seminars that stood out to you?
I think Kathy Nimmer. She is the best storyteller and they are all true stories about teaching and about her own challenges. She is blind, so, her own challenges with being blind and being a teacher and her experiences with other students who have had struggles. She also talks about her own fun experiences. Some of her stories are heartbreaking, some of them are just wonderful and happy. The way she tells them has everyone just sitting at the edge of their seats and they cannot stop listening to her.
It’s like a family on the floor. If I ever had a problem or a question about a class or if I needed help on homework or just needed someone to talk to, I had a whole floor of people who were willing to do it with me.
What are some of the responsibilities you have as a peer leader?
Peer Leaders focus on academic events and the general health and well-being of freshmen on the floor. We plan community events based on our actual majors. We are also assigned peer mentees for the year that we specifically look out for.
What kinds of skills would a peer leader need to have?
For sure leadership but there is more to it than that. You have to be confident in yourself, know your own needs and take care of yourself. You also need to be aware of what other people are going through or their personalities so you know how to work with them. You need to be able to be flexible and work with a variety of people. Also, you need to be selfless in general. The point of being a peer leader is to help the freshmen adjust, it is not about us.
Is this something that is time-consuming?
It is totally manageable and it never feels like work. Yes, it will look nice on your resume but it never feels like a job. It’s like a community. Yes, it takes time, but you can totally balance it with any club you join. I am in a sorority and that takes hours of my week but I still manage to fit in INSPIRE. I am also the Vice Chair of Finance for the Leadership Council board and this is my second year doing it. You just have to plan ahead and do your coursework when you know you have time.
Do you have any advice for anyone thinking of applying to INSPIRE?
I think it would be wise to visit the floor and talk to us. I can guarantee that any peer leader they run into on the floor would be happy to talk to them. I would encourage them to either get in touch with one of us or visit the floor and ask some questions.