The first year of the Franciscan Peer Leaders proved to be a great addition to the FranU campus.
The Franciscan Peer leaders are a select group of FranU students who aim to form as models of the mission and serve their peers in an authentically Franciscan way. The idea came from looking at how the University could fully embrace its mission to educate and form Franciscan servant leaders.
Interested students who wished to serve in the group applied and were then interviewed. During the process, interviewers looked for Franciscan Peer Leaders who had a general understanding and acceptance of the University’s mission and core values, a passion for serving in extraordinary ways, and an authentic desire to develop and challenge themselves holistically.
The Franciscan Peer Leaders were then formed in mentorship, Franciscan servant leadership, and Catholic spirituality, and then were able to share what they learned through different campus initiatives such as Wolf Pack Orientations. During orientations, the Franciscan Peer Leaders were a presence among the new students. They cultivated new relationships, answered questions, and guided new students to campus resources and information.
“I think the Franciscan Peer Leaders have provided a way for students to get connected with others, and I also think we provided examples of things they might encounter during their first semester, which would have been something that I would have liked in my first year,” said Peer Leader Matt White.
The focus for new student orientation was to increase engagement and student success during their transition to campus. Having a smooth transition for students coming from high school or transferring from another college is just one indicator of success in their first year.
Peer Leader Bria Campbell recalled that what she enjoyed most was connecting with the students. “Each student I had a conversation with was unique and I loved that! I loved that they felt comfortable sharing their personal experiences that led them to FranU. I also enjoyed that I was able to help them to have a deeper understanding of what God has called them to do in life.”
The Peer Leaders were crucial in providing a truly mission-centered gateway into campus family through community building and networking by emphasizing the value and importance of relationships, which is deeply Franciscan and at the heart of the Church.
Tyler Trahan, Director of The Franciscan Experience, hopes the Franciscan Peer Leaders see how the gift of presence makes a huge difference in the lives of others. “Just as St. Francis was such a radical presence in the lives of those who needed it most, I hope we can provide this same type of presence to the students of FranU, specifically our new students.”
Esther Penns, Director of Academic Advising, stated, “The Franciscan Peer Leaders have embodied humility, compassion, understanding, and a level of support that creates a safe space for our new students to turn to when things may get a little challenging or seem unfamiliar. I believe that this level of peer mentorship is a vital part of making the transition smoother for our new students.”
The next phase of The Franciscan Peer Leaders initiative is to build a more robust training and formation program to fully immerse them into the campus community, eventually leading to more campus engagement opportunities to build fellowship and to serve not only the campus but the Baton Rouge community in a more significant way.
“By the nature of our University, we must take every opportunity we can to form our students in a very special way. That is, to engage them in their faith while unveiling how God calls them to be leaders in their communities and not just any leader, but a specific type of leader who wishes the good of others. We hope the Franciscan Peer Leaders will be a catalyst to further build a truly Catholic, Franciscan campus culture,” concluded Trahan.
The Peer Leaders group will accept 20 students per cohort, and each cohort will serve a one-year term.