There is much truth in the saying “To teach is to learn twice over,” and all one has to do is speak to any of the seven bright, articulate Mason peer coaches currently at the UNLV University Libraries to recognize it.
Founded in 2006 and endowed by Flora and Stuart Mason, the Mason Undergraduate Peer Research Coach program has provided a full four years’ worth of assistance to more than a dozen at-risk students across all fields of study, supporting their retention and cultivating their development by engaging them as educators of their peers.
“Through this program, the UNLV University Libraries are able to serve as a partner on the peer coaches’ educational path to graduation,” said Rosan Mitola, UNLV outreach librarian and coordinator of the Mason Undergraduate Peer Research Coach program since 2013. “I see my role as that of a steward responsible for making sure coaches are successful so that when they go into their chosen profession, they have already developed valuable skill sets and a wealth of experiences to draw from.”
“The Libraries are teaching me what I can use outside of my major as well as in real life,” said Jason Meza (bottom), another new addition to the Mason peer coach team. Also pictured: Denise Zamora, Joey Yurgelon, and Lorraine Francisco (top, from left); Katia Uriarte (center).
Peer coaches are mentored by library staff so that they may help other students at the Libraries. Most notably, peer coaches provide assistance in first-year English composition library instruction sessions, which nearly all UNLV students must complete to receive their degrees.
This, however, just scratches the surface of all that the peer coaches do. You can find them presenting at a new student orientation or giving a library tour. You can see them assisting at a special event or engaging in a service learning activity. You can even find them participating in a planning meeting or sitting on a committee. The Mason Undergraduate Peer Research Coach program provides ample opportunity for coaches to learn a wide variety of academic and life skills that will serve them well beyond UNLV’s walls, including project management, networking, presenting, consulting, and more.
Naturally, the students become much more than assistants to their peers. They serve as ambassadors of the Libraries and go on to exemplify the type of professionals UNLV graduates.
“I see the peer coach program as a model by which these students can shape their entire lives—a model of helping others,” said Flora Mason. “When I think of the program’s future, I think of not only how it will continue at UNLV University Libraries, but how it will continue in and through each one of the peer coaches in all they do after graduation as well.”
“I really love what I’m doing here and what I know I’m going to be doing,” said Kameron Joyner (top), one of the University Libraries’ new Mason peer coaches. “I have started growing more confident and have future hopes that being a peer coach will enhance my leadership abilities.”
“Being a Mason Undergraduate Peer Research Coach has not only helped me financially but also academically,” said Mason peer coach Zhiheng “Zing” Xue (bottom). “I have learned valuable research skills and successfully applied them to my academic studies.”
For more information on the Mason Undergraduate Peer Research Coach program, please visit https://www.library.unlv.edu/employment/peercoach.