Makena Horne is a second-year sophomore at WSU completing a B.S. in genetics and cell biology and a minor in pre-genetic counseling. She joined the peer health education program in the fall of 2019. Her peers in the program nominated her for the November Peer Health Educator of the Month award. This award is given to peer health educators in recognition of their hard work and dedication to the program. We sat down with Makena to hear more about her time in the program and why she thinks other students would benefit from joining.
How has being a peer health educator been meaningful to you?
Makena Horne: [Being a peer health educator] has helped me learn some of the skills I felt I was either lacking or didn’t have as much training in. To be able to help people in need – like when my friends are going through a rough patch or somebody needs some advice – I feel I can better aid them.
How do you think being a peer health educator has built career skills?
MH: I think the best career skills I’ve learned are active listening and learning what makes a good and effective program/workshop. I personally want to work more on my public speaking skills. How can I keep an audience engaged and how can I deliver information in a clear manner so people can understand – I think that’s going to be really beneficial in a clinical setting.
What is the most important thing you’ve learned as a peer health educator?
MH: Well, I am working with the Peer Body Project this year and one thing I really took home was how to accept myself and how to help others accept themselves. And I think that’s really powerful. So I am really happy I get to be a part of that and to be able to help. I’ve also learned about the bystander effect and how to overcome this and be an active bystander. I feel I am in a better place to intervene in a situation I would see.
What would you say to someone who is considering becoming a peer health educator?
MH: I’d say go for it because it’s a whole lot of fun. Not only is everyone friends, but we all have similar interests and ideas, so we really vibe with each other. I was really worried at first about the time commitment – I have Honors classes and pre-med classes and just everything else I have to worry about – and it’s really not that bad. I don’t really feel strained or anything. I would recommend this to anyone who wants to get involved on campus. You don’t have to be pre-med to be a peer health educator. The skills you’ll learn are about teaching and those skills can go so far.