More than just a Paycheck Being a student and employee at Morgan State

Being an ACCESS Orientation peer mentor changed my perspective of myself and Morgan State University. I came to college thinking, I'm going to get a degree and that's it. No extracurricular activities. No making friends. My plan was to stay in the books and graduate. I was so desperate to attend an HBCU out of state, that when I got to Morgan, I completely disregarded how amazing its history and people were simply because it was so close to home. However, the moment came when just sitting in my room became depressing and I had to get over it. The reality was, I couldn't afford out of state tuition, so I had to make the best of my experience at Morgan State.

The flier read, "seeking friendly, energetic responsible students to welcome new Morganites and I thought to myself I can do this!"

How it all started...

Most students don't take the time to read fliers–including myself. But, something drew my eyes to this flier printed on basic paper taped on Carnegie Hall's front door. The flier read, "seeking friendly, energetic responsible students to welcome new Morganites" and the requested items to submit were listed in red. I thought to myself I could do this! There was a photo in the middle with some familiar faces. I thought hard as I read through this flier. I knew I had the GPA and the right attitude to fulfill the duties of the position, but I heard how difficult it was to get selected. I also knew that making over $2,000 sounded pretty good too, so in spite of my doubts I took a leap of faith and submitted my application.

A few weeks later I received an email, "you have been selected to participate in a group interview to become a Summer 2014 ACCESS Orientation Peer Mentor." I hopped from my bed so excited. Anxious. Curious. The group interview was pretty nerve-wrecking. It was different from an ordinary interview. I sat in an old-fashioned room with dull carpet and a slightly molded scent with about 5 other people sitting at my table. I can't remember everything we had to do, but I still remember hearing my heart beat so fast because I was so NERVOUS. This was my first time putting myself out to my peers and other faculty besides my professors, but a new experience can build character right?

Some of the 2014 Access Orientation Team

"It is with pleasure i inform you tHat you've been selected to be an access peer mentor For summer 2014"

After all of my worry, about a week later an email from Tawana Banks, the ACCESS Orientation Coordinator popped up in my inbox. My hands became sweaty as I proceeded to open the email. The first line scared me because it said "first off I would like to thank you for being apart of the selection process for the 2014 ACCESS Orientation Program." Those kinds of openings to emails are familiar to everyone. Usually that's a start to rejection from a job. My heart sunk into my stomach, but the email was long so I read further out of curiosity... "it is with pleasure I inform you that you've been selected to be an ACCESS Peer Mentor for summer 2014." I texted my mom immediately– "I GOT THE JOB!!!" I was the only one sitting at my table for interviews who got selected.

My selection email

Being a peer mentor taught me so much about my university. From handling financial aid to how to utilize my resources for academic success. Interacting with incoming freshman for 5 consecutive weeks was tedious, but each week I learned something new–Dr. King gave his "I Have a Dream Speech" at Hurt Gymnasium before giving it in Washington D.C. The director of Office of Student Success and Retention is married to Kwesi Mfume, the chair of Board of Regents. He has a figure in the Blacks of Wax Museum. I truly learned about the school's rich history and basic school spirit traditions. What did you do at a basketball game when a player scored three points? What were the moves to the "We are the Bears" dance? The university's alma mater? These simple things made me appreciate what is was like to be a Morganite.


"Is your name Keva? You were my peer mentor!"

I went from complaining about attending Morgan to falling in love with it. Becoming a peer mentor allowed to reflect on what attending an HBCU is really about. I learned that I can leave a very memorable impression on students. The ACCESS Orientation program brings in about 1,000 incoming freshman every year. At least once a semester, I run into a few students who say "is your name Keva? you were my peer mentor!" I never realized how much of an impact I had on these students just by being open about my personal experiences as a student. Being a peer mentor was more than just a decent paycheck. It truly was a character building experience that I can never forget as long as I live.

Created By
Keva Coles-Benton

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