The CUNY Peer Leaders is a community-based program that supports CUNY undergraduate students’ scholarship and creative work in the Humanities and supports them in developing leadership skills to implement within their communities and colleges. Still in its inaugural year, the CUNY Peer Leaders is a new iteration, supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, that combines elements of the CUNY Humanities Alliance LaGuardia Mellon Humanities Scholars program and the Futures Initiative Undergraduate Leadership and Democracy Fellows Program.
The new program will welcome 40 CUNY Peer Leaders for 2020-2021 from two- and four-year CUNY colleges. As part of the program, Peer Leaders will have the opportunity to develop a humanities themed project and a portfolio of public writing pieces on the program blog. CUNY Peer Leaders will participate in a variety of community building workshops and enrichment opportunities designed to explore concepts of voice, respect, and presentation of self, which are essential to leadership; critical and creative thinking; sociopolitical issues and their impacts; various historical and cultural perspectives; aesthetic appreciation; and human connection. Through their work, individually and as a group, CUNY Peer Leaders further develop their skills in research, oral and written communication, collaboration, project management, digital literacy, identifying needs and resources, learning with and from others, and building trust, while striving toward shared goals. All of these accomplishments also help prepare them for success as students during their time at CUNY and beyond.
With the students at the center, this group celebrates the successes that CUNY Peer Leaders have already achieved, helps them determine what they need to prepare them for future graduation and careers, and supports their reflections on the ways that these accomplishments can help them to become leaders of their communities. This mutually supportive community with students from both two-year and four-year CUNY colleges, along with meaningful mentorship relationships with staff, faculty, and graduate students, creates a near-peer mentorship community that supports students in their educational goals, and beyond. By fostering meaningful connections and friendships with peers one step away from them in their educational path, the program promotes transfer and continuation within humanities pathways and equips students to move toward goals that build a better future.