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Ontario Tech acknowledges the lands and people of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation.

We are thankful to be welcome on these lands in friendship. The lands we are situated on are covered by the Williams Treaties and are the traditional territory of the Mississaugas, a branch of the greater Anishinaabeg Nation, including Algonquin, Ojibway, Odawa and Pottawatomi. These lands remain home to many Indigenous nations and peoples.

We acknowledge this land out of respect for the Indigenous nations who have cared for Turtle Island, also called North America, from before the arrival of settler peoples until this day. Most importantly, we acknowledge that the history of these lands has been tainted by poor treatment and a lack of friendship with the First Nations who call them home.

This history is something we are all affected by because we are all treaty people in Canada. We all have a shared history to reflect on, and each of us is affected by this history in different ways. Our past defines our present, but if we move forward as friends and allies, then it does not have to define our future.

Learn more about Indigenous Education and Cultural Services

Peer Leader Showcase: Jessica

March 24, 2023

The Peer Leader Program is a peer-mentoring initiative that supports student success and engagement by fostering peer relationships that contribute to the strong sense of community and vibrant campus culture at Ontario Tech University. 

Jessica was selected as the Peer Leader of the Month due to her active engagement and mentorship. I interviewed her, and she has much to say about her experience as a Peer Leader. Why did you decide to be a Peer Leader?

I didn't know anyone in the first year, but my Peer Leader helped me create a sense of belonging, and I also wanted to provide that for other first years. Being in a new environment can be nerve-wracking and stressful. I wanted to help foster an environment that combats this fear.

How would you describe your experience as a Peer Leader?

It had its ups and downs. It was always great chatting and getting to support new students, but sometimes it was hard to balance my school work with the role. It has allowed me to grow more, and I've learned a lot about myself. Overall it was a positive experience that I would appreciate for a long time.

What were your goals going into the school year?

Finish off strong and enjoy as much as I can. It's my final year in my undergrad, and because of covid, I missed out on some of the experience, so my goal was to continue to work hard, but most importantly, to enjoy my final days.

What was the most memorable part of Orientation?

Meeting all my mentees, whom I have been chatting with for a while. It's always nice to put a face to the name! ALSO can never forget when Health Sci won Stanley!! Great early graduation gift :) The mentees worked hard, and we bonded over our competitiveness and pride in Health Science. I will never forget that!

What did you learn from being a PL?

I learnt a lot about how to chat with people. It allowed me to explore a more sensitive and compassionate side of myself. 

Did you attend any events this month, and if so, what was your favourite part about it?

I helped organize a Health Sci PL study session. My favourite part about it was the study music vibes, and after our timer went off, we chatted about the most random things. I loved the conversation. It helped me forget about the looming stress of exams.

How does the Peer Leader program relate to your personal/professional goals?

It allows students to be put into a position of authority. Not authority like a boss, but a sense of experience and knowledge of university life. We are allowed to help others and support them in various capacities. I have always loved teaching and supporting others to reach their success. If anything, this program will give me a sense of fulfillment that motivates me to continue my passion for working with people.

How has the Peer Leader program helped you develop thus far?

It helped me become a better person. As cliche as that sounds, it's true. Doing this for three years, I went through days where I wanted to quit and not bother doing extracurriculars. But then I would wake up to an email from a mentee who wasn't doing too great and needed support. This program allowed me to gain a broader perspective and step out on the balcony more often to learn before coming to conclusions. It's a huge learning curve to overcome, but I can empathize better and be kinder when it clicks. I've been through my ups and downs, and over the years and through this program, I have seen all kinds of folks from all walks of life. I love hearing about people's journeys and how they came to be where they are now. That is what helped me develop into who I am today.

Would you recommend others be a Peer Leader, and if so, why?

Absolutely. Regardless of your personality, if you are more introverted or super comfortable with social situations, there is always something to learn and gain. The program is not only to help incoming students but also to provide opportunities for self-growth. This program is a great way to learn more about yourself and gain compassion and kindness. 

Looking back, is there anything you would change or work on?

Of course, hindsight is always 20/20, and we always reflect on things we think we could have done differently. I would have loved to host more events with my mentees and give them more opportunities to connect with me and each other. I had all these great ideas but got busy with schoolwork and life.

How does it feel to be the Peer Leader of the month?

It feels fantastic! It makes me feel validated that my work is recognized and valued. Everyone wants a pat on the back when they do a good job, right?