Rishana: Peer Leader and College Ally

Rishana Persaud, Peer Leader
Rishana Persaud, Peer Leader

Meet Rishana

Rishana is a second year Peer Leader at BMCC’s Learning Academy and has taken on a leadership role through CARA’s Peer Leader Fellows program. Rishana graduated with her Associates in Business Administration from BMCC in May 2019 and is now a student at Baruch College majoring in Finance. Rishana was a recipient of BMCC’s Foundation Scholarship at BMCCl, and is also serving as a “Peer Fellow” at CARA, helping to design and run training for new Peer Leaders.

What is something you have done as a peer leader you feel particularly proud of?

I really was proud of helping one of my Mentees get a scholarship. She only saw BMCC as a community college and she didn’t have a good view on community colleges so she was planning on transferring to Albany right after two semesters. I told her that BMCC had a lot to offer and told her about all of the things that were available. I told her about a scholarship that I got that my professor helped me with… She emailed me this semester and told me she received the scholarship and she is now more excited to stay.

I also got a few students off probation. One girl was close to graduating but fell behind. She came to me every other week and when I last checked her grades she had all great grades and got off of probation. I think being the person that cares about what she was doing and her progress helped her. Sometimes you need a little extra push and I was that person for her who helped her go to tutoring and find her own style and make it work for her.

I worked with other students whose GPAs went up. One girl was not close to graduating and had a lot of issues with her family. I told her to download “My Study Life” and made her go to tutoring every week. I also helped her speak to professors when something was not clear. She took all of my advice and was able to get her grades up. 

What impact have you seen peer leaders have in your program/at your campus?

Peer Leaders have a great impact on the students. At the Learning Academy we are mostly involved with seminars as a “second help” to students whenever they have a question. Every seminar has a different focus like “transfer” or “navigating your first year”. We are helping students as students because we better relate to students than advisors. They may be intimidated or shy but feel more comfortable talking to a peer leader and asking “what they really want to know”.

Why did you want to be a peer leader?

When I first start at BMCC I was like every other first year student, confused and not knowing what is going on, But then I got this email about Peer Leaders so I thought it was mandatory so I signed up. I had my first meeting with a peer leader and I really connected with her. She told me about the services and I thought, “Wow, this was helpful”. She helped me understand the campus and even with a class that I was having a hard time with. She was very encouraging and I thought that I wanted to be who she was to me for someone else.