Peer Educators want to talk about love!

In October 2019, Maryville College received a grant from the Department of Justice for a program centered around Preventing Assault and Violence through Education (PAVE). For Jessica Boor-White, this grant is what spurred her position change from Title IX Coordinator and Director of Student Services to her current role as the Prevention Education Coordinator.

“In my previous positions, I saw that the students’ exposure to prevention education was limited to bare-bone online learning modules and a one-time presentation during freshman orientation,” Boor-White said. “That hurt my soul, because my background and passion is in prevention! For me it’s really exciting that now I have the chance to get back to what I love and fill those gaps in students’ education.”

Harley White, student coordinator for the Peer Educators program, smiles in the golden hour.

Picture courtesy of Harley White.

The DOJ grant came at a perfect time during psychology major Harley White’s senior year, as they were planning their senior thesis. In high school, White had positive experiences with Planned Parenthood programs that educated students about healthy relationships and sexual practices as well as gender and identity.

“I realized when I came to college that not everyone had access to this kind of comprehensive sexual education,” White said. “I wanted to take an active role in the PAVE program to combat the widespread lack of information among students.”

White is now the student coordinator for the Peer Educators, which is a team of students that work within the PAVE program. The peer educators are a group with a variety of backgrounds and experiences, and they are all passionate about sharing what they know with others.

“I wanted to be a Peer Educator because I think I can offer a unique perspective,” said Taylor Spratt, a senior psychology major. “I’ve been married, divorced and have kids, and I know my experiences can make me a valuable resource for someone here on campus.”

“I think the program will be a good opportunity to spread awareness about sex and all the things that surround sex,” said Carly Youngblood, a junior ASL interpreting major. “Talking to people who are well-informed and trained is a beneficial way for students to navigate various relationship dynamics.”

The Peer Educators’ office will be housed in Bartlett 103, a newly renovated room where the old student fitness center was located. Boor-White said she envisioned this area as a safe-space where students could talk, study, or just feel comfortable relaxing – especially for students who have felt marginalized by gender-based discrimination.

It will also be a place where Peer Educators will have office hours, meaning they’ll be available to talk to anyone and everyone about questions they may have.

There will be a grand opening for the office on Feb. 14 from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. Canvases will be available to paint on for fun, so come and help decorate the space with whatever love means to you!

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