- Secondary English Education
- Graduation year:
- Channahon, IL
Q&A with Laura
What have been some of your favorite INSPIRE experiences?
I really liked our trip to Tennessee last spring break. I also like the smaller events on the floor like Cookies and Canvas where everyone gets canvases and we get to paint whatever we want. There are cookies and everyone just hangs out and does stuff as a community.
Have there been any seminars that have stood out to you so far?
One of them was the Teacher of the Year last year, Kathy Nimmer. She was blind and she had a dog as a service animal. I thought she was very empowering because she showed us that no matter what obstacles you may face you can do anything you put your mind to. She was also an Olympic champion. She was really inspiring.
Have you formed any lasting relationships?
I definitely think that INSPIRE provides people with that connection and a community of people they can reach out to. In my courses, there is not a lot of time dedicated to community building activities so you do not really get to form intimate bonds with people in your class but when you are on your floor it is almost like you are home so you build stronger relationships with people on the floor than you do in the classroom. So, even though you meet a ton of other education majors in the Education building, the relationship you build with them will not be as strong as a relationship with someone on the INSPIRE floor because you spend a lot more time with them.
INSPIRE provides people with a community they can reach out to. I think it is a really good idea that we have a system going so that people can go to someone that they can trust, someone that is older than them and has probably experienced what they are going through.
What has your experience of being a peer leader been like?
I really like being a Peer Leader. To me, the role entails being an emotional support system for someone and having a positive relationship with a person who may or may not be needing someone at the time. People do not always share everything or they might not always have a friend to talk to. So, I think it is a really good idea that we have that system going so that people can go to someone that they can trust, someone that is older than them and has probably experienced what they are going through.
What motivated you to come back as a Peer Leader?
I wanted to be that person that someone who was going through something could talk to because I did not have that last year.
What are some of the responsibilities involved?
It is more than just having your door open. Peer leaders meet once a week after seminar for about an hour. This semester we had to post office hours for people on the floor while they scheduled classes and help them with that process online. Peer mentors made a whole schedule with different times throughout the week where people were available so freshmen could ask for help. We have our mental health week coming up and peer leaders are organizing that entire event. Every single day for a whole week, we will have different events being organized by different peer leaders. We all also have to write emotional support letters or letters of encouragement to our mentees.
What are some of the skills you need to be a Peer Leader?
Somebody who is compassionate and non-judgmental because sometimes people will come to you with very personal things or things that you might have a certain opinion about. You have to remove that opinion and give them the best advice that is going to help them, not what you personally agree or disagree with.
Do you hold any other leadership positions?
I am on the Leadership Council as the Vice Chair of Communications. My job is to make people aware of INSPIRE events, that way people know what is going on around campus and they have things that they can get involved in. I do a lot of digital design of flyers and posters to hang on the floor and send out emails.
Does this take a lot of time?
You have to be willing to dedicate time to it. Just like anything else, you really need to put time into it. My schedule is really busy because I am involved in a number of things this year but as a sophomore, my time management skills have developed so much more.
Do you have any advice for anyone thinking about joining INSPIRE?
Get a tour of the floor or get to know someone who is already on the floor to get the best firsthand knowledge.