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Business Major Helps Freshmen through Peer Advising

02/01/17

As a peer advisor, Ritshly Bissereth ’19 of Stoughton, Mass., is helping a group of freshmen from this year’s Class of 2020 adjust to life at college.

“It was a good opportunity for me to do something that was community service-based, and help people through the First Year Experience (FYE) program,” Bissereth explained. “I was in their same situation about a year ago, so it was still fresh in my mind. I remembered what I went through, so I wanted to give the Class a little help.”

MCLA’s Peer Advising Program helps all first-year students succeed through tutoring and peer support. Peer advisors connect with freshmen throughout the fall semester as they work with offices, departments and faculty to ensure the new students’ needs are met. They also keep the students informed about upcoming programs, workshops, seminars and speakers on campus.

Each peer advisor is assigned to about a dozen students with whom they share similar majors and co-curricular interests. According to Bissereth, a business administration major, most of the peer advisors’ responsibilities take place at the beginning of the fall semester. This includes joining their group of freshmen in taking an FYE course.

“Peer advisors attend that class,” Bissereth explained. “Then, we’ll discuss different topics that were assigned, and make sure all the students are involved and engaged. We also hold two events – one academic and one social – during the school year.”

Bissereth heard about MCLA from his high school advisor.

“I chose MCLA because it was the most affordable school in my price range,” he explained. “I also like the scenery. It’s quiet and a different environment from where I’m from, so I was more interested to attend MCLA than the other options I had.”

Bissereth will be the first person in his family to earn a bachelor’s degree.

“It will be a pretty big accomplishment,” he said. “Having a degree will provide me with many more options and opportunities, especially as a man of color. It’s very difficult in this world to survive without a degree. It’s a very important step in becoming successful.”

So far, the best parts of Bissereth’s MCLA experience include meeting his friends and multiple opportunities on campus to take charge of his education.

“Since MCLA is a small school, it’s very easy to take control of your education – to ask for help, to get assistance,” he said.

The wide variety of opportunities and experiences available on campus will allow Bissereth to transition to what’s next. For him, that means getting a job for some practical work experience before he goes on to graduate school for his Master of Business Administration degree.

“When I leave MCLA, I will be able to be self-sufficient and have the qualifications and knowledge to work in the real world. I will have proven myself to be responsible, focused and active.”