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Peer Educator Recipient Speeches


  Return to 2008-2009 Ceremony Directory  

Samantha Grayeck

Hello everyone and thank you again for coming out tonight. It was with great deliberation that I chose exactly what to say and whom to thank tonight for this wonderful award, because after all, in a three minute speech it is difficult to get all of the important stuff out there.

First and foremost I would like to thank my family and friends; they are the ones that made it possible for me to be standing up here, receiving an award with such honor. And then of course I need to thank my advisors and supervisors, all of whom have made an impact on me in different ways throughout the last four years.

Peer education is something that is difficult to wrap your head around, it isn’t necessarily quantifiable, or tangible, but rather something that you feel. If someone asked me tonight how many hours I spent this year doing peer education, I would truly struggle at giving an accurate answer, but if they asked how many times I would drop everything for a fellow student in need, the answer would be much clearer. I was recently asked by Matt Farley just how much service I believe I have done this year and putting numbers on it seemed close to impossible. Luckily that is one of the few impossible things that I have found in peer education.

I learned early that it is not impossible to make a difference. It is not impossible to have your name known at a large university like Uconn, and it is not impossible to take ownership of the social problems that we see in this community, and this nation. As a peer educator I can leave here knowing that I made a difference to someone, or maybe a number of people, but I can also leave knowing that because I reached out, someone else became motivated to follow suit. Peer education is not just about me, or any of the other candidates for this award; rather it is about all of you here tonight, out to celebrate the winners’ achievements, among ones of your own. We are here to celebrate that the children of today, are fighting for the future of tomorrow, whether we are doing it one peer, one child, or one community at a time. Working as a peer educator, whether it was in the Community Outreach office, or through Residential Life, has shaped me to be the person who I am.

Lastly I want to make the distinction that I accept this award not only on behalf of the people that I have helped this year, but on behalf of the ones that those people will help in the future. Peer education is kind of like what we learn about in Pay it Forward, because for every one person that I have helped through difficulty, taken the time to mentor, or given an extra push in any direction, they move on to help someone else. The ripple affect that peer education has on this campus is enormous, so I want to say thank you again not only for this award, but for all of you who are here, paying it forward, after all, paying it forward is peer education at its best.


Vu Tran

 When I first found out that I received this award, I was very excited and very honored. Then I found out that I had to make a speech, which made me very anxious and very nervous. In my studies, I am an accounting major. So I often speak with numbers and formulating words is always a little more difficult. Fortunately, being a peer educator has equipped me with better public speaking skills enabling me to accept this award tonight.

With over 30 peer education programs and hundreds of peer educators at the University of Connecticut, most folks would describe being named Peer Educator of the Year as a humbling experience. However, in my case, I feel this experience could be better described as empowering. Whenever I do peer education, I never really have an award or an accolade in mind. My main focus is always to help my peers and to act as a resource here at UCONN. So whenever I receive an award, I wonder what it is that I do that makes me different than any of my fellow peer educators. Of the hundreds of us out there, why do I deserve this award? Well, being named Peer Educator of the Year gave me a validation that I am making a difference on this campus and that people are noticing me for it. I give my best effort in any organization that I am a part of and try to serve as a leader to those around me. So, it is a true honor for me to be recognized here tonight.

Now as much as this award has empowered me, I fully recognize that I could never have gotten here by myself. Whether I am doing FYE, PLI, Sexperts, Speakers’ Bureau, UCONN Connects, QUAD, VAWPP or any other peer education program, I have been extremely fortunate to have a great network of support. So I would like take the opportunity to thank all of those folks now. I would also like to thank one other group of individuals, and those are the students that participate in our programs and those who are willing to learn from us because without them I would be trying to educate empty chairs, which I feel would probably be difficult to do. So as a peer educator, I will go on from here and continue to educate, and I hope that will join me in doing the same.


Juan Carmona

Good evening ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to take a moment to thank my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for this opportunity. I have to give Him credit, as He is the main force behind my work. I would also like to thank Ms. Marisa Sullivan for nominating me and writing my letter of recommendation, and Mrs. Fany Hannon, for writing my other letter of recommendation. My students have played a key role, as well. They have been my motivation and have helped me enjoy teaching and mentoring to the extent that I do now. I am going to take a second to thank my family…they mean the world to me. Mom I know you couldn’t be here this evening, but thank you for your love, your continuous support, and encouragement. I love you!

It is a privilege and a blessing to be here this evening before you to accept such prestigious award. There is something inside of me that lights up every time I am in front of the class teaching my students. It is a passion that arises from within me. I find that through First Year Programs and the First Year Experience classes, and other programs I am part of, I am able to give back to other UCONN students and prospective students. You can see that through my involvement with M.E.T.A.S, the Leadership Learning Community as a Community Assistant, and with the Visitors Center as a tour guide. The University of Connecticut has opened many doors for me in the three years I have been here and my goal is to light the path for my students. My goal is to see them succeed. I say this because I have been able to see the potential and the caliber of young men and women I have worked with.

I have been blessed with my students in peer education. Being in front of the class not only gave me the opportunity to teach them, but it also allowed me to learn from them. This has been an experience of a life time. It has allowed me to improve my leadership, organizational, interpersonal, and communication skills. Peer education has been a key element in my personal growth. It is a true satisfaction to be able to help your peers and know you have made a difference in their lives, for as little or big as it may have been.

I wanted to thank a couple more people for their mentoring, advice, support, and willingness to assist me at any time: Dr. Mayte Perez-Franco (Director of the Puerto Rican/Latin American Cultural Center and my Faculty Mentor for the Leadership Legacy Experience), Dr. Joseph Briody (also known as Joe Briody…sorry, I’m just not used to calling him “Doctor”) Associate Director of Student Development and Learning, Annette Lombardi, my UCONN Alumni mentor for the Leadership Legacy Experience, and Dave Ouimette, Executive Program Director for First Year Programs. Yes, I have mentors too! Thank you so much!

Lastly, thank YOU peer educators. Thank you mentors for the work that you do and please continue to do the great work you are doing. Please give yourselves a round of applause (pause). I am going to leave you with a quote I found online and hope it keeps inspiring you and motivating you to continue giving back to our UCONN community. Do not forget that the work we do is essential to the success of so many students. You ARE making a difference.

“Go to the people (your students). Learn from them. Live with them. Start with what they know. Build with what they have. The best of leaders (peer educators) when the job is done, when the task is accomplished, the people (the students) will say we have done it ourselves.”

Thank you First Year Programs. Have a good rest of the evening ladies and gentlemen! May God bless you all.

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First Year Programs & Learning Communities
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Storrs, CT 06269-2232
Email: fyp@uconn.edu
Phone: 860-486-3378