Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Untold Stories of a Peer Advisor

Ever wonder, "Am I in the right major?"  How can I find the right major for me? What careers can I get with certain majors? These are some questions I asked myself my freshman year.  Applying to CSU, Chico, I was declared as a Bio-Chemist major in hopes that I could go off and do a Forensics program to become a medical body examiner. All my life I knew I wanted to be in law enforcement, but once I entered college I came to find that I wasn’t super great at Calculus and that science was fun, but too hard. I kept thinking of other things I loved doing and what kinds of talents I had. 

I always knew I loved kids, I loved being around them, and had tremendous patience. Then I looked into jobs that had to work with kids and that’s where Liberal Studies found me. Going into Liberal Studies I knew that most people take the major in order to prepare themselves to become an educator.  I set up an appointment to speak with an advisor about my dilemma and in hopes that she would guide me to the right path. She began to explain the major and the more she talked about it, the more I fell in love with the idea of becoming an educator. The moment I knew that I was in the right major was when she began to tell me that there was a bilingual/cross-cultural education option which would help me to get my multiple subject bilingual credential. I was so excited to start my new major because I had been looking for major that would allow me to help youth.  

It wasn’t until my second semester of my freshman year where I began to take classes for my major. As a Liberal Studies student at Chico State, our general education is integrated into our major, so I began to take GE and my major classes. I loved all of my classes and my teachers and they completely helped me to grow as a person. In the blink of an eye my second semester was coming to an end and I came into my advisor’s drop-in day. The office was filled with students in need of help deciding which classes to take and what instructors were recommended. I sat at a table filled with three or four other freshmen and my advisor came to ask if we were comfortable in advising as a group. We all agreed and she began asking us questions about our semester. Then she began to ask us about our plans for next semester and I had shown her the classes I enrolled in. She said I was on the right path and that I was good to go for next semester. I noticed that the other students next to me were flustered and felt confused and began to suggest classes and professors they could take next semester according to our Major Academic Plan. My advisor was impressed with me and suggested that I should join PALS, Peer Advisors in Liberal Studies. I had to think about whether or not I wanted to join because I felt I knew little about the major and did not feel prepared to be a peer advisor. My advisor supported me and reinforced that I would be great for the job and so I applied. 

Becoming a Peer Advisor in Liberal Studies has helped me grown in more ways than one. I gained more confidence in myself because I was helping students in and out of my office hours with questions they did not feel comfortable asking the advisors. As a peer advisor we are more than just there to help with planning your schedule. We are peer advisors because many of us have lived and gone through academic and personal situations that a lot of other students have gone through. Our main goal is to help all students succeed academically, but also enjoy everything that college life has to offer. We took on this challenge in hopes of students feeling comfortable to come talk to us about anything and everything. So if you ever have a problem  just know that “We care, because we were there.” 

By Andrea Hernandez

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