Adrianne Beer, BGSU Alumna
In my final year of college at Bowling Green State University, I wrote a senior research thesis about campus sexual assault. It was during that time that I was presented with the opportunity to be part of Informed-U’s Standing Together Against Sexual Violence and Misconduct program. I was excited to put my research and expertise to practical use. I would be a facilitator of small group discussions with other students about prevention and also be able to contribute to improving the content of the new program.
Once I became involved, I realized that I was learning much more than I had been capable of through research, and also, that I was growing as a person. The experience I gained as a Student Facilitator has been indispensable in my career; the skills I developed through the experience have served me greatly in both the professional arena and in my personal relationships.
As a facilitator, my responsibility was to lead small groups of students through the Informed-U Learning Sessions. This included guiding students through questions and topics that created a conversational learning experience. It may seem obvious that having leadership skills would be important to success in this setting. Through my years as a high school softball team captain though, I didn’t learn the type of leadership that facilitating one session taught me. Yes, I needed to steer conversations, and make sure students were getting through the program, but I also had to listen to and connect with students. Learning this balance has proven invaluable to me.
It was important that the students in each session felt comfortable sharing their ideas, opinions, and sometimes experiences. This can be an intimidating endeavor even when the topic isn’t sensitive let alone when it is sexual assault. I learned how to open up the conversation so that everyone’s voice was heard, while never pressuring students to talk about something they didn’t want to. I believe learning this has made me a better communicator, and taught me how discus important, and often triggering subjects. I think that everyone could benefit from learning to give a platform for someone to speak, but not forcing them to speak. Listening skills such as looking a person in the eye, nodding your head when they speak, and being one hundred percent present, were just a list of tips before I facilitated a program. Now, I understand what a difference these actions make and how important it is for people to feel heard. After facilitating this program several times, I feel confident not only in my leadership skills but my listening skills as well. Both have been incredibly helpful for interviews, workshops, and personal relationships.
Now, it has been almost two years since I graduated. I use the skills I developed working with Informed-U at my job every single day. As a Program Coordinator at a small nonprofit I am often leading educational programs and outreaching to communities. I go into these situations confidently, knowing I can tackle any discussion with grace.
Another aspect of being a program facilitator that I have carried with me, is the affirmation and the feeling of understanding that I received from the program. The sessions I led provided a space for college students to share their experiences surrounding sexual assault on campuses. In my first session it was so comforting to hear fellow women students share experiences that I thought I was alone in having. It was affirming to realize that I was not alone in these frustrations and struggles with sexual violence on campus. Although, it was not reassuring to realize this problem was larger than I had grasped, it was incredible to have a place to speak openly about it with peers. The knowledge of knowing that I, as a woman, am not alone in my experiences has brought a reassurance, and ability to be outspoken about these topics. This is a gift I would not have received through any other professional experience.