The College Reading & Learning Association’s (CRLA) International Peer Educator Training Program Certification (IPTPC) committee has awarded Justine Hastings ’21 the 2020 Outstanding Peer Educator Award. Hastings will be recognized at a virtual CRLA conference on Friday, Nov. 13.
Originally from Brooklyn, New York, Hastings is an English and textual studies and secondary English education double major. “I grew up in a neighborhood where people don’t have much opportunity,” she says. “Many are stuck in the cycles of inequality that I am trying to combat.”
Hastings says she is fortunate to have her mother’s support, and she recognizes that many of her peers may not have that same kind of support system. “That’s why I feel the need to give back and help others,” she says.
Hastings is grateful to be in a privileged position that enables her to help others. She gives back in her roles as Student Association president, as a WellsLink peer mentor, as a SEM 100 facilitator and as a mentor for the Syracuse Office of Undergraduate Research & Creative Engagement (SOURCE).
She says she was honored to be nominated by Samantha Johnston, the assistant director of the Center for Learning and Student Success, and recommended by her faculty advisor, research mentor and professor Kelly Chandler-Olcott. “Overall, it put a smile on my face and reminds me of why I do the work I do: to help others as others have helped me,” Hastings says.
Working as a peer educator is something Hastings would highly recommend. “Peer support plays such an integral role in student belonging and success because unlike teachers or administrators, students can truly empathize and connect with one another in terms of experience.”
Hastings says the key to her success as a peer educator are skills that people should already be practicing. “Displaying and expressing empathy can go a long way,” she says. “Making a fellow person feel seen, heard, appreciated and supported can go a long way.”