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Peer Advocate Leaders celebrate 10th anniversary

PAL is here to help you

Peer Advocate Leaders pose at a CU Denver Campus Life retreat earlier this year.
Photo: courtesy of Student Government Association

For most people, transitioning from high school to college can be a whirlwind of stress, excitement, homesickness, and school pride, but for those nervous freshmen entering CU Denver, the friendly neighborhood PAL program is here to help. 

The program started small, a project with only nine members in 2009. Founder Linda Duran fostered the program until it grew to its current 53 members, which is the largest it has ever been. And as of Sept. 26, the program recently celebrated their 10th birthday. 

The PAL program, which stands for Peer Advocate Leader, is truly one-of-a-kind as it is only offered at CU Denver. It is made up of exceptional students who spend their time mentoring their younger peers and helping them to adjust to their new lives as college students.  

PAL members are introduced to students through First Year Experience courses where they begin to build rapport and offer resources for getting through that stressful first semester. PALs also educate students on the benefits of being in college, and make sure they can access all the resources they are paying for but may not know they have.  

Rey Worrell says, “We are here to show you the resources like the food pantry (located on the third floor of the wellness center), the wellness center, the writing center, you know all the things that you’re paying for so that you can utilize them to the best of your ability.” Worrell works as the PAL Graduate Assistant and acts as the right-hand man to PAL Coordinator Kelsi Miles.  

The PAL program also puts on events for incoming students so that they immediately feel welcomed and a part of the CU Denver community. One of their largest events of the year in CU 411 takes place during the third week of school, where students can win prizes such as Airpods and a Nintendo Switch. This year approximately 260 students attended. 

While PAL’s main mission is to mentor incoming students, it isn’t just the freshmen who stand to benefit from the program. PAL is one of many student employment opportunities offered by the university. In addition to a paycheck, members can also make friends with the incoming students they mentor and their fellow PAL members.  

PAL members can also learn valuable lessons that will help them in the workforce after they graduate. 

“This [program] will help you to become a leader not only in the professional sense but also in the personal sense in helping you gain confidence and learn communication skills, how to do a position right,” Worrell explained.   

For those looking to become a PAL, the hiring process starts at the beginning of the year in January or February. Students can sign up for information on joining at events such as Spring Fling and Fall Fest. 

The PAL program and its members are all about helping students succeed during and after college. “Please contact us on our student orgs webpage. You should be able to find us in Tivoli 127,” Worrell says. “Our doors are usually open from 8 to 5. Come down and see us, we’ll give you candy and help you out.” 

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