‘All leadership is influence’. I will always remember this phrase by John C. Maxwell from his book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, especially because as a student I had the opportunity to serve and lead others. During my undergraduate experience at the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras campus, I volunteered as a peer advisor for the Office of Undergraduate Student Services.
The Peer Advisors Program matched each new student with a peer advisor, whom organized a variety of events and activities for the group to attend together. As a peer advisor, my role was to assist first-year students in making the transition from high school to college by sharing strategies for academic success and knowledge of campus. Specific services included: helping first-years to meet college-level academic expectations and demands, assisting first-years with short and long-term academic planning, and reaching out to first-years in academic difficulty. I also served as an intermediary between first-year students and professional counselors by providing referrals to appropriate departments and campus organizations.
Running meetings, representing the program to the university, and serving as a role model in the community helped me refine my leadership, organizational, and communication skills. But one of the biggest benefits for me has been connecting with incoming students and being able to lend a helping hand, both, socially and academically. My role in helping students adjust to university life was multi-faceted: more than a mentor I was a friend.
I will never forget my group of first-year students and all the things that we learned together. They were from diverse backgrounds and areas of study: Education, Humanities, Business, and so on. That was a great opportunity to share views, exchange perspectives and contrast ideas; which definitely strengthened the group. They were shy at first, but once they became more confident and comfortable with their college life they...