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Experiential Learning #2
Application Materials

Image by Stephen Plopper
Honors Peer Educator for Honors 100 Au22
UW Interdisciplinary Honors Program

Summarize your proposed experiential learning activity, including the primary focus of your activity and whatever tasks or actions it entails.

As a peer educator, I will practice leadership and communication skills while teaching my own section of HONORS 100 first-year students. Serving as a resource and friend for these incoming students, I will help them navigate honors program requirements, introduce them to campus resources, and help them get engaged and involved in community-building activities in class and out. Using my own prepared lesson plans, I will facilitate classes, give presentations, run mini-workshops for their academic planning or portfolio needs, and organize classroom activities on a weekly basis. This activity will require lots of prior planning and engagement outside of the classroom, so time management and pacing is key!

Explain how your activity demonstrates the values of the Honors Program Experiential Learning category you selected. Rather than reiterating our definition, outline how your activity embodies this definition. Why is this category part of the Honors values? Why does it matter? For example, if you are doing research, what tasks and activities are you performing on a daily basis, what IS research and how are those tasks connected.

Serving as a Peer Educator aligns heavily with the leadership category of Honors Experiential Learning as it incorporates planning, execution, and collaboration phases throughout my time in training and teaching as a Peer Educator. From the vision of designing lesson plans and practicing presentations, to collaborating and working with feedback in the previous spring preparation seminar, to pulling off all these activities in the class during the autumn quarter, every step of my peer educator journey is an opportunity to grow my skills as a leader and resource for those transitioning to the UW campus for the very first time.

How and why did you select this engagement? What skills or experiences do you hope to gain from it?

After my former peer educator and former professor encouraged me to consider the position, I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity and apply to the program to understand where my leadership capabilities were at that given moment at time, and see where I could take them. Aside from experience in presenting and facilitating activities, I wish to see how far I can go as a friend/educator package without overstepping my own or other student's professional boundaries. I believe it is incredibly importantly to learn how to humanize the many faces at college and encourage new folks to explore the seemingly big and daunting world of college, and I want to learn how to do that in a professional, effective, yet friendly and inviting manner.

How does this activity connect to your concurrent or past coursework? How does it speak to your broader education goals and experiences?

As a former student of HONORS 100, I understand how overwhelming the new college environment can be. But at the same time, what I learned from that class and my following honors classes is that there are countless opportunities and experiences to be had in the program that are unlike any other courses at the UW. I hope to share these with my own HONORS 100 students, and also get them excited about their own future and goals here at University. As for me and my broader education goals, I would love to get more education and presentation experience and confidence under my belt with people around my age, and understand how to approach important conversations in a classroom and professional setting since I hope to be an educator in the future.

How will your activity contribute to the larger goals of the organization/your partners?

Practicing all of these skills as a Peer Educator allows for a better understanding and familiarity of honors program requirements and resources by our incoming freshmen. This bridges the gap of disconnect between incoming students and advising staff or programming directors, and allows for me to give my students advice or pointers based on first-hand experiences of my own journey through honors so far. With students having direct access to me as a PE, they will be able to ask questions and also know where to access resources within the honors program and university as a whole - many of which are important foundations to have when navigating the rest of your UW and honors career.

Estimated hours per week: 5

Estimated project start: 10/04/2022

Estimated project end: 12/09/2022

Final Reflection:

The peer educator experience has been much more than I could have ever bargained for, in the best way possible! Although I’ve completed reflections on my first quarter training as a PE, taking a look back on my second quarter and teaching experiences for this fall is an entirely different story. I stood by my initial idea that I would be intimidated by how I would be treated in my classroom, being so close in age to my students, but I was incredibly lucky to have a willing and sociable bunch this year that many of my concerns dissolved within my first few sessions! I came into the class with the confidence that I was familiar with the materials needed for the day and had the support of my other PEs, but the students made the delivery of the material even easier just by being themselves and being okay with vulnerability and hiccups every once in a while. My outlook on leadership heading into the quarter was heavily shaped by my experience in HONORS 397 in the spring, and that outlook has been further reinforced by my experiences with my students. I believed that a good leader is someone who can get the job done, and deliver information effectively, but also prioritize human nature and genuine care overall. If I could make my students genuinely trust and feel comfortable around me, that will only enhance the effectiveness of our time together, and hopefully, give them the space to share what’s on their minds if something is getting in their way.

The vulnerability and confidence required of a leader like this is EXACTLY the type of leader I wish to be perceived as in my future leadership roles wherever I go. I hope to be seen as not only a confident leader with resources, advice, and directions, but also as a peer who understands the ways that life can throw wrenches into plans, or a teammate that listens first to people's passions and areas of expertise or interest before dividing roles. I’ve walked away from Honors 397 and my Honors 100 class with confidence and new skills in nearly all of these areas of my “good leader” figure. I’ve seen first-hand the power of vulnerability and comfortability to express oneself in an academic setting, as well as acknowledging my lengthy preparation to deliver information about honors requirements to my students and answer their questions effectively. With all this, I still didn’t let confidence take a hold of me, and made sure to ask questions when I was unsure. 397 in the fall was all about active feedback, questioning, and reflection from our teaching sections. I’ve learned SO much about myself as a presenter and educator in this class, and tracking the evolution of my teaching style over the course of the quarter has revealed my more confident, willing, and experimental self to the world. I loved updating my peers and Nadra on how my sections went, and each week they felt like they were getting better and better. 

I'm learning to be more accepting and appreciative of my leadership style of putting people first because it is one of my personal assets that I value the most out of all the skills that are necessary for a student leader. In future roles, I hope to hold myself up to this standard of being a friend and a safe place for my peers and teammates first before anything else. If I lose sight of that as a priority, I may lose sight of it all and my leadership style may lose its effectiveness altogether. If I can say one sentence that would summarize my development and philosophy as a leader based on my learnings and experiences as a Peer Educator, I can say that I lead best when I know, and I mean GENUINELY know, my teammates or peers. We do our best work when we feel comfortable confiding in one another, and we are able to tackle even the biggest challenges or concepts when we know to expect a community effort.

(this is equivalent to 2 pages double spaced on this PDF!)

Supervisor Feedback

"By now, I am sure you can relate to how much it means to me as your instructor to read all of your thoughts and takeaways from this experience. I am so glad that it helped expand your thinking around leadership and helped you reframe and adjust your own expectations for yourself as a leader. I love what you wrote about the importance of knowing the people around you, and of building community for vulnerability and growth. You are a natural educator, Samantha. I love the energy, support, and creativity that you bring. You have a bright future ahead of you regardless of what you do. It has been an absolute joy to get to know you through this experience, thank you! I hope you have a restful break and that I see you again soon in the new year :)"

Nadra Fredj, Honors 397 and Honors 100 Instructor
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