CCC Peer Advising helps student retention


Peer Advisors Katherine Radics, Darnell Joseph and Aleina Myers stand in the Commons at the CCC Lone Tree Campus. For a video of the Peer Advising program at CCC, visit the CCC YouTube page here.

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- Darnell Joseph walked in front of the Fourth Street Campus of Coconino Community College on that fateful day two years ago.

He had no idea what he was going to do after he closed his restaurant on Fourth Street. Joseph worked as a chef for years and was thinking about going back to work when he looked in the window of CCC and wondered what it would be like to go back to school. He was about to walk away when somebody came outside and asked him if he was interested in going back to school. He said he considered it, but that he was too old.

The CCC employee said “nonsense” and invited him inside.

Now, Joseph’s future looks bright, and he applies what he’s learned to help CCC students coming to Student Services in search of advice.

Joseph is a Peer Advisor for CCC.

“It’s been such a learning process,” Joseph said. “It helps me to help young people.”

During the course of his day at work as a Peer Advisor, Joseph helps educate students on the campus and the mission of the CCC. On minute he might be helping a student fill out a class schedule, or he might be giving a tour to prospective students; and the next he might be giving education on clubs, organizations, programs and other resources students can take advantage of for success.

His most helpful advice: “It’s important to explain that things must be done in a timely fashion for students to get what they want,” Joseph said, smiling.


Brian Francis, Interim Dean of Student Services, said that the Peer Advisor program began in the fall of 2013 with the help of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College & Career Training Grant received by CCC in 2012. The Peer Advisor positions are paid for out of the grant.

Including Joseph, there are currently three Peer Advisors, and each of them works a maximum of 19 hours a week, Francis said. Each receives training not only in how to best serve students, but they are also learning skills and adding to their own resumes for higher-paying jobs after they leave CCC.

Last year, the Peer Advisors served 70 students in a variety of capacities. About 60 percent of the students served were first-time students.

“Peer Advising, it’s one of the best practices of recruiting and retaining students in colleges,” Francis said.

Students are more at ease and can ask questions to peers that they would not ask advisors or faculty, Francis added. The Peer Advisors share their experiences as students at CCC, the services they used and how they were successful.

The TAACCCT grant is scheduled to conclude in 2016, but Francis said that the program would continue, with the College picking up the Peer Advisor salaries.

“It’s something the College wants to keep going,” Francis added.


Joseph said that when he first began at CCC, he got work in Student Services at the help desk. He started slow, and as he gained confidence with the encouragement of CCC staff and faculty, he spread his wings.

“I thought this was really great, and I want to be a part of this,” Joseph said. “Peer Advising seemed like a natural fit. It’s so satisfying to watch young people take control of their lives and shape their future.”

Joseph is in his last year as a student at CCC. Next year, he will be transitioning to Northern Arizona University as a member of the CCC2NAU program. His current area of emphasis is Hotel Restaurant Management, but he’s not locked in, by any means.

“A wider world is opening up to me,” Joseph said. “It’s constantly evolving.”

For a video of the Peer Advising program at CCC, visit the CCC YouTube page here.


Wednesday, 16th December 2015

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  • Wednesday, 16th December 2015