Peer support programs across campus connect mentors to fellow students who need support while breaking down barriers to accessing professional help.
As Franklin & Marshall students cap the first week of spring semester, tutors like Milena Tutiven are ready to support them. As a Peer Academic Coach (PAC), the senior helps students develop and maintain personalized academic and wellness strategies.
“A lot of the students I've encountered have issues managing their time, balancing that academic and personal life aspect of college,” Tutiven said.
Tutiven is one of dozens of peer mentors at F&M.
Peer support programming across campus offers practical tips and guidance about how to manage the many components of college life, while connecting students to professional services if needed.
“Peer support has been shown to be really effective at breaking down barriers to accessing professional help and decreasing stigma, especially in regard to mental health. Additionally, peer support programs lead to a larger social network for students and help them feel more connected to an institution in general,” said Susan Knoll, care coordinator.
For students like Tutiven, the benefit is twofold.
“Even though it’s a work-study job, I feel like I'm genuinely doing something that's going to help me in the future and help people who are currently struggling. In a way, it's the closest thing I could find to what I want to do in the future,” she said.
Meet a few of the mentors at F&M:
Milena Tutiven, senior
Major: Psychology with a minor in Latin American and Latinx studies
Peer mentor role: Personal Academic Counselor (PAC)
What inspired you to become a PAC? I'm interested in psychology. I want to pursue clinical psychology in the future. So, I just really enjoy working with people one-on-one and really getting to know them, building these relationships and making their life easier in whatever way I can. Being a PAC allows me to do that. I really feel like I'm making a difference.
Jeremy Mauser, senior
Major: English (creative writing) and Spanish
Peer mentor role: Head Tutor at the Writing Center
What inspired you to become a writing tutor? Three years ago, I decided to apply because I enjoyed writing, helping others and going to the Center for appointments. Once I started working here, I felt like part of the community almost immediately – the staff hangouts and discussions during and after shifts have helped me grow close to a diverse group of supportive, caring, and intelligent individuals. I wouldn't have met many of the tutors if not for working here, and now I can't imagine my college experience without them.
Hala Reeder, senior
Major: Public health and French
Peer mentor role: Peer Health Educator
What inspired you to become a peer health educator? In high school, I was part of a team of students that held a peer-support class period every day. This was the beginning of my peer support education. I was inspired to make impactful change on campus surrounding wellness. I was, and still am, excited to get better trained on health matters and how to help others. Last year, I focused on sexual health and education.
Roger Avila-Vidal, senior
Major: International studies and anthropology with a minor in French
Peer mentor role: Preceptor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) course pilot program
What inspired you to become a preceptor? I've always thought, in general, that there should be programs that help cover DEI in many aspects, making sure that we have students from underrepresented communities feel safe, feel supported, feel welcomed, and feel included in different decisions and programs going on on campus. I'm excited to see that now coming to fruition – to see what we can improve and how we can change this to adjust and be able to help improve the environment on campus.
"I feel like I'm genuinely doing something that's going to help me in the future and help people who are currently struggling. In a way, it's the closest thing I could find to what I want to do in the future.”
Peer Support Programs at F&M
Active Minds (student chapter): The nation’s premier nonprofit organization supporting mental health promotion and education for young adults.
First-Year Advising Mentors (FAMs): Mentor incoming students throughout the summer, bridge the transition from high school to college, support course questionnaires and basic advising and registration help, and work with sophomores before the major declaration period.
Group Counseling: Psycho-social support groups at the Student Wellness Center provide a free and confidential environment of support to share and interact with students facing similar experiences.
House Advisors (HAs): Student staff members in the College Houses charged with building cohesiveness among and delivering services to an assigned community of residents. (Brooks, Ware, Roschel, Bonchek, Weis)
Joseph International Center (JIC) Peer Mentors: Assist international students with handling many different types of challenges, including homesickness, adaptation to F&M, cultural and academic differences and making friends on campus.
Peer Academic Coaches (PACs): Help students develop and maintain personalized academic and wellness strategies, including time management, combatting procrastination, staying motivated, managing stress and building effective study habits.
Peer Health Educators: Provide general health and wellness advocacy and education in four main areas: COVID-19 education, alcohol and substance abuse prevention, mental health, and sexual health and sexual violence prevention.
Preceptors: Assist professors in Connections curriculum classes, leading discussions, working one-on-one with students, presenting material, modeling skills and supporting student adjustment to college life.
Quantitative & Science Center (Q&SC) Tutors: Support 30 courses in Astronomy; Biology; Business, Organizations & Society; Chemistry; Computer Science; Economics; Mathematics; Physics; and Psychology each semester.
Writing Center Tutors: Help students with writing assignments across any genre, from brainstorming to evaluating complete drafts, and present to Connections curriculum classes.