Professor and Senior Director Sumaya Villanueva, Senior Academic Advisor & Coordinator of the Peer Advisor Program Brenda Valentin and their team at John Jay’s Academic Advisement Center received the NASPA Leadership Development Program Award for their Peer Advisor Program. They received the Spotlight Series award for their particular focus on research and assessment. NASPA’s Student Leadership Program Knowledge Community (SLPKC) strives to showcase outstanding and innovative leadership programs and services.
“Winning this award is great validation. The work we have been doing with our Peer Program is amazing. Our great work is being recognized by a national association in higher education,” said Villanueva.
John Jay’s Peer Advisor Program is an essential component of the Advisement Center at the college. According to Villanueva and Valentin, “the program serves a dual purpose; it promotes development of leadership skills among Peer Advisors and they in turn become inspirational support figures for the students with whom they work. Peer Advisors are carefully selected and participate in intensive on-going training. They represent a wide array of academic majors, class standings and ethnic/cultural backgrounds.”
In addition to the guidance and support provided by Senior Academic Advisors, Peer Advisors offer students helpful information and insight from their perspective as students themselves.
Peer Advisor’s responsibilities include: assisting students to understand the college’s curriculum, their appropriate selection of courses, major/minor exploration, campus involvement and appropriate student referral. Peers are also assigned a cohort of entering freshmen every semester. Through their periodic contact via email, in person, and phone, Peers build meaningful relationships with their assigned students.
The mission of the SLPKC is to serve as a resource for higher education professionals who have a professional interest in young-adult training, education and development. The Peer Advisor Program at John Jay College exemplifies the SLPKC mission by fostering leadership skills. In the five years that the Advisement Center at John Jay College has been in existence they have worked with a total of 40 Peer Advisors and 18% of them are employed full-time in higher education positions.