LVC Students Learn By Helping Their Peers

Students volunteer as 50-50 peer helpers in the counseling center at Lebanon Valley College

Mental health and stress are common issues on college campuses. At Lebanon Valley College, students have a chance to help each other navigate challenges through the 50/50 Peer Helpers program. In doing so, many have discovered a career path that allows them to continue supporting others.

Within the first week of her freshman year, Maureen Fleming ’17 appreciated the support she received as she adjusted to campus life. The experience inspired her to join the 50/50 program, through which she developed a passion for counseling. An alumni of LVC’s psychology program, Fleming attends graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. She will graduate with two degrees—an M.S.Ed. in counseling and mental health services and an M.Phil.Ed. in professional counseling–and plans to pursue her doctorate.     

Fleming said her 50/50 experience gave her an advantage in her future studies. “I came into the program with way more counseling experience than most of my peers,” she said.  “It helped me contribute to class discussion as well as getting chosen for the practicum site I wanted this year and the college counseling internship I wanted for next year. While at my practicum site, my experience as a 50/50 has also helped me feel comfortable talking to students about difficult topics and feeling confident in my ability to help,” she added.

At LVC, 50/50 helpers meet individually with students going through difficult times such as long distance relationships, academic concerns, and social anxiety. They also host two social, supportive group programs called 60 Minutes and OASIS (Overcoming Adverse Situations in School). They cover current events as well as topics including coping with stress, reading social cues, and speaking up.

Neuroscience major Alexa Windsor ’19, a current 50/50 helper, said, “This program has been an amazing opportunity for me as I have learned how to help others, how to lead a group, and how to effectively engage in outreach programs in our LVC community.” 

Eleanor McNamara ’19, a French major who wants to work with international students as part of her career, is also gaining valuable experience as a 50/50 helper. 

“I’ll be able to better communicate with more emotional intelligence because international students may struggle with similar topics that I have been trained to help students with, such as making friends and being homesick,” said McNamara.

Like McNamara, Darryl Sweeper ’15, a psychology doctoral student at William James College, is proud and thankful for the work he has done and the places he plans to go.

Sweeper had a friend who had encouraged him to look into the program after his roommate and best friend transferred schools abruptly. After seeing the impact that Peer Helpers had, he was immediately interested and switched his major from engineering to psychology.

“This role taught me the importance of male advocacy and alliance when it comes to difficult topics. It helped me build a solid foundation of skills and confidence in counseling.” He also realized how the counseling field needs more people of color, especially men.

“It is important to shift the current narrative and it begins with great role models to explain to young boys and young men that it is acceptable to cry and to talk about our feelings while also exploring and correctly showing them how to treat women and one another.”

Learn more about the 50/50 program on LVC’s Counseling Services website

 

-- Sierra Force, LVC Marketing & Communications Student Assistant