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Peering into the Future: Instilling Ethical Leadership through the Development of Peer-Educators

In higher education it is our privilege to be entrusted with the opportunity to charge our students with a sense of community, virtue, and independence, in addition to providing them with a quality education. In this session, we explore the way which peer-education programs attract and develop a diverse population of student leaders committed to personal ethic and civic duty. We do this through spotlighting Florida State University’s RENEW (Realizing Everyone’s Need for Emotional Wellness) peer-education program. Additionally, we will offer insight for program development and facilitate reflection on how a similar program may be instituted at participants’ home institutions.

Extension of session experience

Large universities and small colleges across the nation use peer educators to support college success and healthy living in their academic community. Peer-education and advocacy programs bolster student engagement and offer students the opportunity for professional development and self-discovery. Learning about our model, participating in group discussion, and engaging in thoughtful reflection will provide foundation for adapting and implementing our ideology into interactions with students and student organizations. This session will also provide the framework to develop a peer-education program which is mutually beneficial to the university community, the students involved in the organization, and the division of student affairs.

Important question explored

How can we empower and support individual students to take on unconventional and nontraditional forms/roles of leadership that will develop their ethical and civic duty at our host institutions and surrounding communities?



Jordy-Y-150x150.jpgJordy Batt Yarnell is a fifth year doctoral student in Florida State University’s combined counseling psychology and school psychology Ph.D. program. Jordy spent the past summer working at Yale Child Study Center completing psychoeducational assessments and assisting in the creation of subtests for an intellectual assessment in development. He also has served as a psychological counselor for Duke University’s Talent Identification Program. His research interests surround the social and emotional needs of gifted youth. Specifically, he is interested in the development and efficacy of programs which foster character strengths in adolescents.


James-R-150x150.jpgJames M. Rujimora is a graduating senior double majoring in Sociology and Psychology. Last summer James completed an internship at New York University’s Child Study Center where he implemented an evidence-based summer treatment program for children with hyperactive, inattentive, and combined-type Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Anxiety, and Autism Spectrum Disorder. James also loves to spend his summers at Camp Boggy Creek, a camp for children with chronic and life threatening illnesses. Upon graduation, James intends to pursue a doctorate in Clinical Psychology, focusing on camp-based interventions to improve the quality of life for pediatric populations with chronic illnesses.


Brian-M-150x150.jpgBrian Menard is a third year student at Florida State University pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology. Brian has been with RENEW for one year, holding individual instructional sessions and presentations for students as well as scheduling outreach meetings with professors and faculty. He’s also been involved in undergraduate research, an experience that allowed him to present at the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies’ 49th Annual Convention in Chicago, Illinois this past November. Brian plans to graduate from FSU in the spring of 2017 and pursue a master’s degree in higher education and/or student affairs.


Kendal-C-150x150.jpegKendal is a fourth year student at the Florida State University with a double major in Criminology and Psychology. Kendal spent the last summer volunteering at the Florida State Hospital in Chattahoochee. As a volunteer, she was able to shadow various psychology staff as they conducted competency evaluations as well as co-facilitate a women’s empowerment group for a select number of female residents in Forensic Central. Kendal plans to pursue a master’s degree in Forensic Psychology.