Fatima Barron, a second-year public affairs and policy management student, writes about how she’s been able to defy her limits as a Workshop Peer Helper at Carleton’s Learning Support Services.

The Peer Helper Program, run by the Student Experience Office, focuses on peer-to-peer learning. The program involves 8 offices across Carleton such as the Student Experience Office, the International Student Service Office and Co-op & Career Services. I am fortunate to work for Learning Support Services (LSS) as a Workshop Peer, delivering study skill strategies and tips to students of all faculties.

Public speaking strikes fear into my heart every single time I must do it; whether it is for a class presentation or an impromptu group activity, I just get so anxious in front of people. Now why would I purposely want to add stress to my life? I mean I am an introvert. I find interacting with others difficult (there’s an infinite amount of reasons too complicated to explain). However, I am a firm believer in constantly challenging one’s limits and public speaking is definitely one of my greatest challenges. So when I saw the opportunity to be a Peer Helper, I immediately applied and never looked back!

On the surface, I give study skills workshops. In reality, it is more than just presentations. The Peer Helper Program has allowed me to meet and connect with other students while developing my own skills as a leader and a person in general.

A lot has changed for me in the past few months that I have been a Peer Helper. Not only have I improved my presentation skills, but my confidence level has increased greatly. I feel so much more confident in my interpersonal skills now that I am able to communicate effectively with different people and different personality types (I guess frequently presenting to 10-60 students per workshop three times a week inevitably does that). I learned to reach out of my comfort zone to engage students so they get the most out of these free services on campus. I’m learning to break down some of the walls that I put up around myself and add a hint of “Fatima” to each presentation. Whether it involves using real (sometimes embarrassing) examples for our time management workshop, or showing clips from the tv show Community (Go Human Beings!) for our memory workshop, I try to be more approachable by showing who I am rather than just being that random stranger giving a presentation.

Whenever I present a workshop, I like to ask if anyone has anything they will use from the presentation in their own life. It makes me happy when I see that students use these tips and strategies discussed in the workshops. I feel especially proud when students say they will use some of the techniques that I use in my own studies. That feeling is not one-sided though because the students teach me something new all the time. There’s an infinite amount of learning here at Learning Support Services.

The skills that I learned from presenting workshops have translated into other aspects of my life and I will definitely apply the skills I learned in future endeavors. I definitely recommend the Peer Helper Program to anyone! It is a wonderful opportunity to challenge your limits, grow as a person and be a part of this great community that is Carleton University. There are so many offices where you can work that you will definitely find a position that suits you. Perhaps try something new and apply for a position to do something you always wanted to do but were too scared. You never know what might happen!

Submitted by Fatima Barron, a second-year public affairs and policy management student.

To learn more about the Peer Helper Program, please visit carleton.ca/seo/peer-helper-program


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