Posted on: January 14, 2020
As a University 101 Peer Leader, Maya Sabbagh learned how to build community for students transitioning into USC and saw the huge impact it had on her students’ overall well-being.
Now, as a Clinical Subjects Coordinator in the University of Michigan Scleroderma Program, Maya has advocated to build community among patients who have been diagnosed with Scleroderma, a chronic autoimmune disease. “Though I work in research, I am the lead coordinator for a peer mentoring program within my department. I match newly diagnosed or struggling patients with patient volunteers who have lived with the disease for a long time. Scleroderma is a very isolating disease, but we have seen that building a community among the patient cohort has had a positive effect on previously struggling patients. I firmly believe that I would not have pushed so hard to grow this aspect of my department, had I not been a University 101 Peer Leader.”
The ability to seemingly "go with the flow" while adjusting to plan B, that I honed as a peer leader, helps me remain professional when I am feeling frazzled on the inside.
- Maya Sabbagh
Like many University 101 Peer Leaders, Maya Sabbagh became a peer leader to impact first-year students, but she also developed transferable skills that help her to excel in her career. Maya also credits her peer leader experience with developing the ability to course-correct on the spot. Sometimes lesson plans don’t go according to plan, and Maya learned how to think on her feet and make quick adjustments.
“I go into each clinic with a plan that often gets thrown off course by variables way out of my control – usually in front of highly-esteemed physicians or nervous patients. When this happens, it reminds me of how it felt when standing in front of my class of students while something was going wrong. Only this time, instead of a PowerPoint not working or a scheduling mix-up, the patient’s chart isn’t loading or I am missing one of the items needed while assisting with a skin biopsy.”
The skills that Maya honed as a peer leader have helped her to “go with the flow” while adjusting to plan B, and have taught her to remain professional despite feeling “frazzled on the inside.”
I’m a little more subdued and passive, but I care about people. There is no right way to be a leader, but I saw that I was able to lead in the classroom and to connect to each student. I learned that leadership is about listening.
- Ore Oluwole
For Ore Oluwole, the Senior Director of Communications and Alumni Relations with the USC Alumni Association, the University 101 Peer Leader experience enhanced his leadership and public speaking skills.
Ore says that being a University 101 Peer Leader helped to define what being a leader means. “I’m a little more subdued and passive, but I care about people. There is no right way to be a leader, but I saw that I was able to lead in the classroom and to connect to each student. I learned that leadership is about listening.”
With his job today, he works with a team made up of employees in different areas of the Alumni Association. Just as in his peer leader role, “I listen to get to know them, but I also listen to their ideas and to what’s working well – it helps to move us in the right direction.”
Twice a week, for a full semester, I was speaking in front of nineteen students, which really helped me feel comfortable with my public speaking abilities.
- Ore Oluwole
In his current role, Ore is constantly speaking to different groups of people. He also views his time as a peer leader as a crash course on public speaking, “Twice a week, for a full semester, I was speaking in front of nineteen students, which really helped me feel comfortable with my public speaking abilities.”
Over the past couple of years, Ore has spoken to groups ranging from the Board of Governor’s to the National Association of Black Journalists. Regardless of the audience, Ore uses the skills he learned as a peer leader to engage the audience. “Through being a peer leader, I learned the importance of reading the room, breaking down walls, and making a presentation a conversation rather than a lecture. I honed those skills in the classroom setting, but it led me to be comfortable presenting in a variety of different settings.”
*Do you want to impact first-year students and gain transferable skills?
Apply to be a peer leader before January 20!