The Power of Peers
This blog was originally published by College Summit, a Skillman Foundation grant partner. The writer, Cornelius Williams, participated in College Summit's PeerForward program in Miami. The Skillman Foundation is pleased to have helped launch PeerForward in Detroit and looks forward to sharing local success stories like Williams'.
Even though I had a 4.3 GPA and played football, I had no aspiration to go to college. I was cutting yards and worked on some big contracts with my dad. I figured I’d just stay in Miami and start my own business. College just didn’t seem worth it to me. What was I going to do there?
Then my best friend, Ashley R. Daniels, became a Peer Leader.
She came back from her College Summit summer workshop at Nova Southeastern University telling me how amazing it was. I was pretty jealous of her, to be honest.
She kept telling me about her experience, and how College Summit helped her with applications, personal statements and financial aid. I had no idea about any of this. She asked me, “What’s stopping you from going to college? If lawn mowing doesn’t work out, what will you do?”
She literally sat me in front of my computer and helped me fill out an application for the University of South Florida. She even said if I got in, she would go there with me. I graduated from University of South Florida in 2014 and went off to volunteer with College Summit. I’ve been volunteering with them ever since.
At every workshop, I say to Peer Leaders: “I am a product of College Summit.” I say that not because I was in the program, but because I am the ripple effect. I tell them, “Imagine the world as a big bucket of water, and you’re that drop, each and every one of you, and you create ripples of change.”
Ashley changed my whole perspective. She understood my true value and what I could achieve if I put my mind to it. That’s why I come back and serve.
She’s still my best friend.
ABOUT PEERFORWARD DETROIT
For over 20 years, College Summit has expanded higher education opportunities for students from low-income families. Their PeerForward initiative trains, deploys, and coaches teams of students in local high schools – Peer Leaders – to boost college preparation and enrollment across an entire high school, motivating all students to realize their true college and career potential. Peer Leaders propel the entire student body to see college as the expectation, not the exception, and evidence confirms that supporting these teams leads to increased college and financial aid application rates, increased college enrollment and increased college persistence.
By bringing College Summit’s program to our high schools, Detroit will position its young people to attend and complete college, which has an overwhelmingly positive effect on potential employment, future income, and social mobility. Additionally, first generation, low-income and students of color tend to return over the summer and after college, enriching the career and educational prospects of those around them. An investment in a Peer Leaders and College Summit is an investment in the whole community.