The Peer-to-Peer program at Bellevue College has existed for over a decade now but has recently merged with the Outreach program in the past year. According to Makenzie Santerelli, outreach coordinator for the program as well as BC as a whole, the Peer-to-Peer program is about increasing student involvement on campus in ways such as connecting them to volunteer opportunities and jobs on campus. They also have a mentoring program to help teach students as well.
Hiba Farag, a Peer-to-Peer student employee, explained the structure of the program, saying Peer-to-Peer is made up of “coordinators, mentors and volunteers.” She also explained that the mentors do a coordinator’s job if they leave or get overwhelmed and need help organizing events. On top of that, mentors also host tours of the campus and serve as volunteers at the events that the coordinators organize. Recently the student program El Centro Latino hosted Latino Night with the help of Peer-to-Peer mentors and volunteers.
Having worked at Peer-to-Peer for a year, Farag said it all started because she wanted to give back to her campus. “For my first quarter at BC, I was always the one who came to school and left to go home. I never got involved on campus,” she explained.
Wanting to get involved, she signed up for Peer-to-Peer and was hired as a mentor. Looking back, she said that “the best part is getting a chance to know and meet all of these new people. I love that I get to meet people from other countries that I would have never gotten a chance to meet otherwise.” She also felt it convenient to work on campus as her boss understands that as a student she puts school ahead of her work.
Every year during the first three days of each quarter, the Peer-to-Peer program has hosted a “First Three Days” event. Volunteers staff info booths across campus to help students find classes or other places. They also help control lines in the offices of the B building as well as the parking garage since so many more students are arriving at the college.
In past years, Farag explained that there was a coordinator who organized the entire event in previous quarters. However, the coordinator in charge of the First Three Days event left a couple days before the start of the quarter. That responsibility was handed down to Farag who had to finish planning and executing the event. She stated that “I think it went pretty smoothly overall, even with the coordinator leaving last minute and I think everybody had a good time.”
Farag and Santerelli both praised the volunteers in their efforts this quarter, with Santerelli talking about how much the volunteers and mentors have stepped up with the time they’ve spent working and how much they really want the program to succeed.
In her words, “they’ve really taken up a lot of responsibility.” Of these volunteers, Santerelli wanted to specifically mention Swoin Hong, Victer Delgado, Hoang Nguyen and Farag for helping plan the event.