Campus & Community

PBSC to introduce new Peer Navigator program at Student Convocation

Palm Beach State College has rolled out a new Peer Navigator program as part of its ongoing effort to help first-year students adjust to campus life and stay on track to graduation.

Guerla Altena, Ernesto Rivero Verano, Dawayne King are among the peer navigators who will help first-year students adjust to College.

The program, which launched this summer, will be introduced at the upcoming New Student Convocation where faculty and staff will officially welcome thousands of freshmen. Student Convocation will be held at 10 a.m. Friday, Aug. 21 at the Duncan Theatre on the Lake Worth campus. It will be held at the Dolly Hand Cultural Arts Center on the Belle Glade campus at 9:30 a.m. Sept. 3; the Humanities and Technology Building on the Boca Raton campus at 10 a.m. Sept. 9 and at the Meldon Lecture Hall at the Palm Beach Gardens campus at 10 a.m. Sept. 11.

Twelve experienced student leaders across the College were selected from a competitive applicant pool for the inaugural group of peer navigators. They will spend part of their 20-hour work week providing tutoring and academic support through the Student Learning Center or the Academic Advising Office. They also will mentor students and help get them engaged in campus events and programs. They will speak to Introduction to the College Experience classes and make phone calls to check up on students.

Dawayne King said he is excited to be a peer navigator and eager to help guide new students on the path he began last fall. While he said he found his own direction by developing positive mentoring relationships with faculty and staff, being mentored by peers is a different and rewarding experience.

“The students can relate to peer navigators more than a professor because they have that experience as opposed to someone working at the school,’’ said King, an aspiring investment banker who is pursuing an A.A. degree with plans to transfer to a university for his bachelor’s. “A lot of students learn from people who have been on the same path.”

The Peer Navigator program is the latest initiative of PBSC’s First-Year Experience program launched in 2011 to help ease the transition to college for students. Because registration is still underway, the official fall numbers are not yet complete. However, last fall, the College had 4,737 first-time-in-college students, according to the Office of Institutional Research and Effectiveness.

In addition to New Student Convocation, FYE initiatives also include a First-Year Experience website and a Passport to Success program, both designed to enhance students’ experiences. “As we move toward performance-based funding, and the College is measured based on student retention, the Peer Navigator program is one strategy to promote student retention and completion,’’ said Theresa Cusimano, manager of the First-Year Experience program. “It is also supported by national research and high-impact best practices.”

King says the overall college experience is critical to student success. “I don’t think we should just help people graduate, but graduate with a sense of fulfillment,’’ he said.

New students interested in connecting with a peer navigator can send an email to or call 561-868-3476.

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