Using Facilitation Skills after Graduation

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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.

— Adrianne

Welcome to Informed-U’s Standing Together Blog!

We are pleased to introduce our Standing Together blog, which we hope will be a source of valuable content for those interested in learning more about preventing sexual violence and misconduct on college campuses.

The title of our blog--and of our education program--evokes community. One of the foundational beliefs of our organization is that the vast majority of college students are committed to stopping sexual violence. However, because prevention is a topic that is not often discussed in an open setting, many feel isolated in this commitment, and therefore lack not only practical strategies related to prevention, but also a sense of support and connection. We attempt to address this problem through our small-group, discussion-based learning sessions, which give college students an opportunity to interact face-to-face to examine important issues and collaborate with each other on how to best make a positive impact. For students who go through these learning sessions, as participants or facilitators, this blog will serve as an extension of the experience, offering insights and action-oriented ideas, while keeping them connected with peer voices. For readers who have not experienced a session, the posts will provide useful prevention resources, with unique access to student perspectives.

Also core to Informed-U is the idea that prevention efforts on campus are most effective when led by students. In keeping with that spirit, we plan to feature students as subjects and/or contributors of our posts as frequently as possible.

Of course, we would love to know what our readers would like to see published as well. If you have any suggestions, or if you would like to contribute yourself, please email us at info@informed-u.

Thank you for reading and standing together with us!

Sincerely,

Zach and Erin