New leaders emerging at Kent State

Erin Zaranec

Think back to freshman orientation. For some, this may have been last summer while for others it may have been years ago. Regardless of when you experienced orientation, though, you were assisted and instructed by a Kent State Peer Leader.

Flash Guides, Student Success Leaders, Living Learning Community Mentors, Kupita Transiciones and other peer leaders play an important role in acclimating new students to campus life. Every freshman will come into contact with at least one Flash Guide during orientation and a Student Success Leader in their First Year Experience course. ALANA students may move in early through the STARS or Kupita programs, both of which rely on the help of peer leaders as well.

This year, 172 Kent State students showed interest in obtaining one of these positions and enrolled themselves into the Kent State Peer Leadership Workshop, hosted by the Office of Student Success Programs. This 12-week non-credit course is free for students involved and takes place for 50 minutes twice a week. Students are also required to attend three Saturday sessions in addition to their weekly workshops to enhance their learning experience.

“The training course has been around since the ‘80s and was designed as a training class for students that assist with the First Year Experience classes. Since then it has undergone some changes [and] improvements,” said Meghan Cisar, assistant director of the Office of Student Success Programs.

The course was originally offered for two credit hours and was changed to a non-credit course to allow students to enroll in the workshop without paying overload fees.

“We found that just as many students participated in the non-credit version of the course as the for-credit version,” Cisar said. “This reassures me that Kent State students are invested in giving back to their institution and are motivated by learning new leadership skills.”

Two undergraduate students who have previously taken the Peer Leadership Workshop teach each section of the workshop. Each workshop day has a different focus, but the overall theme is to teach the students enrolled leadership skills, facts about campus and how to be a leader to other students, especially incoming freshman.

By taking the course, students have the opportunity to attend student success programs, such as A.L.I.C.E. Training and can also apply for multiple student leader positions.

Freshman finance major Emma Puz completed the Peer Leadership Workshop with two leadership positions as a Flash Guide and Student Success Leader.   

“I liked taking this class because of the opportunities I gained, the connections I was able to form and the leadership qualities I obtained,” Puz said.

Each class forms their own personal bond, having a small classroom setting and three Saturday sessions focuses on teamwork allows the members of the Leadership workshop to get to know their peers and their instructors.

“Even though I’m sad that I won’t see my group in the classroom anymore, I know I’ll see them all throughout student success programs, they are all going to be the best leaders,” sophomore journalism major Marissa Barnhart said. Barnhart taught section two of the Peer Leadership Workshop with sophomore architecture major Zachary Skwara.

As a participant in the Peer Leadership Workshop, I can say that it really does open doors for students at Kent State. You get the opportunity to gain close relationships with peers from different majors and backgrounds and become better acquainted with campus and with yourself as a student and as a leader.

“This course provides students with an important opportunity to become a leader and help what the Office of Student Success Programs does,” said Yvonna Washington-Greer, Director of the Office of Student Success Programs. “It helps students succeed in every facet of life, it helps them find themselves.”

Contact Erin Zaranec at [email protected].