How do I become a Peer Advocate?
To become a Peer Advocate, look for the campus-wide email with a link to the online application. Shortly after submitting a completed application, eligible students will receive an e-mail to participate in a group interview with other promising applicants and members of the Health Promotion team. If you are selected, you must attend a mandatory three-day training to learn the necessary skills for becoming an effective health resource for students.
When do you accept Peer Advocate applications?
We accept applications once per year. We begin accepting Peer Advocate volunteer applications in the summer for the following academic year.
Do I have to re-apply every year?
No, if you are chosen to become a Peer Advocate, you do not have to reapply.
I am studying abroad next semester; can I still be a Peer Advocate?
Yes, but we do factor that into our choice, so let us know on your application.
Do I have to major in a health-related field to be a Peer Advocate?
Absolutely not! We welcome all majors!
Is there a chance I won’t get selected to be a Peer Advocate?
Unfortunately, we cannot accept everyone who applies – there are just too many great candidates! However, if you are not chosen, we encourage you to try again next year.
I’m a graduate student; can I apply to be a volunteer?
Absolutely, all years and all majors are welcome to apply. The responsibilities for grad students are the same as undergrads.
What do you look for when choosing a Peer Advocate?
We look for self-motivated students who can be creative, outgoing, enthusiastic, and who are committed to a healthy lifestyle.
If I am chosen, what can I expect from the Peer Advocate Training?
Training happens over one full weekend (three days). You will learn how to be an effective listener, how to create programs, teamwork skills, referral skills and marketing strategies. You will also get a taste of some of the workshops we present to students. Campus partners such CAPS, University Police and the University Health Center will provide important information on how to assist students who may be in crisis. You will also meet and hear from current Peer Advocates. By the end of training, you will be ready for all sorts of “drop-in” scenarios.
What if I have to miss training? Can I make it up?
Sorry, there are no make-ups for training. If you apply to be a Peer Advocate you will know the training days in advance and you must attend all three days. If you cannot make training this year, or miss any part of training, you will be asked to apply next year.
What exactly do Peer Advocates do?
The main task of a Peer Advocate is to staff Health Promotion’s Drop In Center and interact with students as they come in for health-related information, referrals or safer sex supplies. Peer Advocates also create and implement health education programs to present to students on a wide range of health topics related to college life, including nutrition, stress, sleep, alcohol and other drugs, sexual health and more! Peer Advocates are not peer counselors.
Will I get to counsel students?
No. Peer Advocates use strategies like active listening and motivational interviewing when interacting with students, but we are not counselors. We are here to be a listening ear and refer students if necessary to services on and off campus.
How much public speaking is involved?
As much or as little as you want. There are plenty of opportunities for public speaking, Peer Advocates facilitate workshops and do outreach activities with students around campus.
Do Peer Advocates get paid?
No, Peer Advocates are volunteers. Volunteer experience looks great on a résumé, and most of our student employees started out as Peer Advocates.
How many hours a week do I have to commit?
A minimum of four (4) hours per week. You may spread the hours throughout the week.
Does my schedule have to be the same every week?
You will set your own volunteer schedule at the beginning of each semester. It is up to you whether you choose to facilitate events, outreach or programs for your four hours each week or stick to your regularly scheduled hours!
Do I have to be there at night or on the weekends?
Not usually. We have a few programs that run on nights or weekends throughout the year, but mostly you will be working during Health Promotion’s business hours.
Can I get class credit for volunteering?
Peer Advocates do not get class credit. However, we do offer academic learning experiences through Service-Learning, Cooperative Learning, Observation and Field Work Studies.
- When I first visited Montclair, I peeked inside the windows of Health Promotion at the Drop in Center. I wanted to know what the little cottage was about, and I’m so, so glad I was able to satisfy that curiosity! Becoming a Peer Advocate and then a Health Promotion Assistant paved the way to new friendships, public speaking practice and a stronger interest in health advocacy. I have truly loved working with peers to help peers. I hope my next adventures are just as rewarding. – Kathleen Gaffney
- Health Promotion was the single best thing to happen during my college career… It was the one place on campus I always wanted to stop in and be. The information and skills I learned at Health Promotion I will use for the rest of my life. It will be a huge change not coming to the Drop In Center after I graduate but the memories and friends I have made there will always stay with me. – Stephanie Barone
- I would just like to say how grateful I am for the experience I gained working at Health Promotion. I learned so much about event planning in terms of marketing, organizing, and reaching out to campus partners to sponsor/partner for an event. I had an amazing time working for HP and with everyone at HP. – Rafia Siddiq
- When I sent in my application, I really had no idea what the Drop-In Center was, and I didn’t really get a good idea of it until halfway through my interview. Yet somehow becoming a Peer Advocate was one of my favorite experiences at Montclair State – and my affection for it is still growing! As a Peer Advocate, I have found myself pushing carts of huge mirrors through the Student Center during the Mirror Project (and accidentally breaking some of those mirrors), collecting pine cones outside of Schmidt Hall for a holiday craft workshop, and directing models at our Body Acceptance Week fashion show. I think it’s safe to say being a Peer Advocate is a one of a kind experience! The Drop-In Center serves as an excellent platform for students who are interested in health-related issues to explore their passions in a safe, friendly, and creative environment (and the same goes for students who are passionate about making buttons!). I spent almost the entire year working on developing a skin-care workshop, and when the day finally came to implement it was way more rewarding than any last day of final exams could ever be! The Peer Advocate experience is what you make of it – whether you master the art of operating moody office equipment, performing condom demonstrations, or hanging bathroom posters with one hand –big things can come from small cottages! – Frankie R.
- Being a commuter graduate student taking night classes, I did not expect myself to get involved on campus. That was until I saw the application to be a Graduate Assistant for Health Promotion and saw an opportunity to not only gain experience in the field of health education/public health but also saw it as an opportunity to get to know the university. It was truly great being able to interact with students and the campus community. In addition, I built some great friendships during my time at Health Promotion that have lasted outside the walls of the Drop-In Center. I will also say that my public speaking skills have definitely improved. Once you talk about safer sex to groups of college students, you realize you can comfortably talk about anything in front of groups of people! – Allisyn V.
- I applied to be a Peer Advocate the summer before my freshman year hoping that if I got in I would make friends, and get to teach people about healthy living. Luckily for me I got the chance to be a Peer Advocate and make those two hopes come true! Being a Peer Advocate has also given me many different opportunities to be a part of projects and events that I’m interested in, and plan my own successful pet-therapy event, “Furry Friends For Finals”! I’ve loved every hour I’ve spent with the Health Promotion crew and I can’t wait to spend many more in the little cottage on campus. – Cassidy C.