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Peer Educator Training revitalized by nursing professor

Quinn Hagerty


Staff Writer


Another semester of Plymouth history is beginning to blossom. Opportunities of all sorts abound for students. A recent example that’s been making headway is the refurbished and revitalized Peer Education Program, led by nursing professor Kerri Reynolds.

This program aims to inform students about how to connect with peers over potentially dangerous issues, with a particular focus on alcohol and alcohol-related circumstances. The central premise lies in a peer-to-peer connection, as the training will teach methods of connecting with people who are facing these issues, such as overcoming the bystander effect, learning how to de-escalate situations, or directing people to other resources that may assist them more effectively.

On a greater level, Reynolds also hopes the program will help inform students about recognizing their own biases, and working with other people who have varying perspectives, commenting “How important it is to have an identity, to have all these different threads that make up your fabric – fabric is different”. She continued, saying, “Peer educators need to self-appraise … First you have to look at your identity as a human, then as a student, and now through a different lens, as a peer educator.”

Training for the program itself will involve both in-person and asynchronous elements. Reynolds commented, “We’re trying to make it flexible because we know people’s schedules are hard.” Students will need to complete 14 hours of face-to-face learning, and 8 hours of asynchronous learning over three weeks. Reynolds continued, emphasizing how investigating your values and skills, and determining where you might need to grow, is just as important as finding your strengths. For completion of this free program which ordinarily usually costs over $300, students will receive a non-expiring certificate and 15 volunteer hours.

This revitalization was in part brought on by Reynolds, as a registered nurse, pursuing her doctorate in nursing practice. In the process of this overhaul, Reynolds has had to build much from the ground up. “The university had some changes with its digital infrastructure … so trying to find aspects of the program was challenging,” Reynolds commented. The program originally went under the name PEEPS, an acronym now unknown, and despite “running well,” fell to the wayside due to the downsizing of staff.

Reynolds is hopeful for the program’s future, especially considering the web she’s built in gathering support for this program. “I’ve received over 300 emails … I’ve talked to anyone and everyone!” According to her, there’s been a “Substantial, wholesome, and energizing” response from the breadth of staff and faculty here at Plymouth. Having to go through all the major leadership positions to get this program approved, from student life and to the provost, many people are interested in seeing this project flourish. 

There will always be those out there struggling with addiction or classes and it is at the forefront of Reynolds’ mind that the program continues past those three weeks of training. Whether that be through tabling to raise awareness, which Reynolds intends to do, or making the presence of educators known more across campus, a repeat of PEEPS’ failure is anything but desired. “It’s meant to connect people,” she said, “it meant to empower people, and create a community of caring”

You can learn more here, or send Reynolds an email at to show your interest.

Image provided by Kerri Reynolds